Whale Watching (Maalaea Marina)

Whale Watching (Maalaea Marina)

You are within walking distance of the Maui Aquarium, the Pacific Whale Foundation whale watching cruises during whale season, snorkeling excursions, scuba diving, dinner cruises and game fishing.  In season, oftentimes, you can see whales from the lanai.

  • Thousands of Humpback Whales migrate through each year typically from mid- November or early December through April.  The whales do not all arrive at once.  They weigh as much as 40 tons.  They travel in groups, called pods.  While traveling together they space themselves out to increase their chances for finding feeding places.
  • 60% of the 21,000 North Pacific Humpback Whale population migrates to Hawaii each season.  This area is the only Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and covers 1,200 square miles of ocean.
  • It is believed that the humpback whales come to Hawaii to avoid orcas which are their predators and are found in large numbers in cool water areas, but only in occasionally in Hawaii.
  • In the summer Hawaii’s whales feed in an area extending from Northern California to the Bering Sea where they feed on small schooling fishes and planktonic organisms, digesting up to a ton per day.  The long summer days provide sunshine for photosynthesis, which is why Alaskan water are green.  Herring and capelin eat the plant life, which in turn are eaten by the whales.
  • Researchers identify individuals by the pattern of markings and coloration on their tail flukes, which are a unique as a human fingerprint.
  • Humpback whales gather in Hawaii in the winter to mate and calve, and since the gestation period is 11 months, a whale conceived one year will be born the next.  During the winter in Hawaiian waters they don’t eat and live off their stored blubber, which are accumulated fat reserves.
  • The humpbacks living in the North Pacific migrate to Hawaii’s warm waters to give birth, then in spring they return to the cool waters of the North Pacific to feed and restore their blubber.
  • Recently impregnated females typically return to the North Pacific; although those that have just given birth stay in Hawaii with their calf until it is strong enough to swim to the cooler feeding grounds.
  • After 11 months inside the mother the baby whale is born weighing about two tons with a length between 10 and 20 feet.
  • The mother humpback and newborn calf will stay close to shore for nursing, and the calf will consume about 100 gallons of fat-rich milk each day.
  • Each month the baby humpback gains about 2,000 pounds and a foot in length.  At the end of the first year the adolescent whale could weigh up to 26,000 pounds and measure 24 feet long.
  • Whales are mature at six to ten years and are then able to produce their own young.  The males will average 35 feet in length while the females are bigger, about 40 feet long.
  • Fully grown humpbacks can be over 60 feet long and weigh 80,000 pounds, and live up to 80 years; and therefore can possibly have more than 35 children.
  • Exactly why whales are motivated to breach is not known.  Breaching is a thrusting motion where the tail is used to launch itself out of the water, landing with a big splash.  There are four theories to explain breaching:  (1) for enjoyment, (2) to get rid of parasites, (3) to keep threats away as a territorial display and (4) to communicate.
  • Another interesting behavior is spy hopping, when a whale brings its head out of the water and treads water up to 10 minutes.  The purpose is to look out with their eyes that can be six inches in diameter.
  • Most of the singing by whales takes place during the breeding season, and is only performed by males.  In any one population they all sing the same song, but the reason for singing is unknown.
  • In the Hawaiian creation chant, “Kumulipo,” we are told about the birth of whales, the largest ocean animal, and in mythology the embodiment of “Kanaloa,” the Hawaiian god of the ocean.
 
 

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