|First Calf Sighting in Maui|
It is nearly Christmas here in the Hawaiian Islands and we have been seeing quite a few humpback whales already. Around this time last year I remembered writing a blog post about seeing our first baby humpback calf of the season so I was on the lookout as we cruised through the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary waters off Maui. One of the passengers shouted out, ‘thar she blows, 11 o clock!”, and sure enough a whale exhalation hung above the water like a little cloud for a few second before dissipating. Everyone looked on in anticipation to see what the whale would do next.
|Mom pushing baby|
Then it happened, another puff cloud but this time a second, smaller, exhalation was noticeable. I radioed up to the bridge to see if my other guide had noticed and she had. We both waited and watched until we saw the same thing again, and then we made the call over the ships loudspeakers, we had our first baby whale of the season!
These humpbacks are here in Hawaiian waters for two reason, having babies and making babies. It is always amazing to see a brand new addition to this species. The size difference is considerable between mother and calf, so to put it in perspective I remind the guests that this calf is about the size of a small pickup truck. We continue to watch as the calf playfully lays across mom’s head and let her carry him around for a bit before sliding off again. It goes to show just how massive mom really is. To get a really good size reference then check out my chance underwater encounter a few years back with a mom and a calf here.
Humpback whales are one of my favorite whale species to encounter. They are surface active and so acrobatic in their behaviors. The bond between the mother and new born baby calf is something we as humans can relate to. And witnessing one of the biggest animals the world has ever seen is always awe inspiring. I've compiled all my best humpback whale pictures here in large format high resolution.