Thursday, February 4, 2010

Whale Song

We woke up with the sun this morning to go on a whale watching tour, after arriving home late the night before from seeing an incredible Hawaiian singer named Willie K. We saw him at an Irish bar called Mulligan's in Wailea, and he blew my mind with his voice, and his guitar and ukelele playing. He can sing anything from old Hawaiian music, to opera, plus he has a wicked sense of humor. I'd suggest anyone who goes to Maui to try to find a Willie K performance.

Our Ultimate Whale Watch cruise started at 7am, and 17 of us piled onto a large raft that would take us into the dark blue waters to search for whales. Passengers were groggy, but armed with the latest camera technology. I felt like I was at a press conference, hearing all those camera clicks. We took off fast, skimming the ocean, as soon as our guide saw a couple of spouts.

Then we saw a Mom and her baby, plus a male whale to watch out for them, their lower backs arching gracefully out of the water.

Mom and baby were playing, fin slapping the water. You can see two fins raised up if you look closely enough.

Then we saw a huge chunk of tail push out of the water, and slap the surface. The guide says that tail weighs 70 tons. It was over too quickly for a photo, but you can see the splash.

The whales travel in packs of two or three, and we were so close we could hear them breathe, big exhales that spurted mist high into the air.

We even saw one whale point its face above the surface, the guide says the whale was looking around, seeing what was above water.
One whale got so close to us, that it was only a 20 feet away, and I saw its back curving into the water. We thought for a second it might swim under us, but we didn't see it again.
They say when a whale dives, it leaves a slick on the surface of the water, a window to the depths of the ocean where the whale disappeared. Whalers used to think this was oil from the whale's skin.
The guide also put a hydrophone in the water, and we got to hear the whale song. It was a melodic tune, sung in recognizable refrains. The naturalist says all whales sing the same song, depending on the time of year, no matter where they are in the world. These are such amazing, gentle creatures, and I felt blessed got to see them up close. It's hard to believe there used to only be 1,000 of them left in the world because of whaling, now there are close to 30,000.
I'm so glad people love whales now, and are only armed with cameras, not guns or spears.

I can't wait to go whale watching again!


andrea said...

Wow, that is so cool! Great photos! Man, I really want to hear that guy sing! There is a hawaiian singer I really like, her last name is Paula Fuga. If she's around, you should see her!

Paula said...

Wow! That is great you got to see them, and how exciting to be so close.

Abigail Bernd said...

so beautiful!

Thos003 said...

Wow. What a refreshing view on life. Thanks for posting these great images.