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"The Amazing & Wonderous Humpback Whale"

2 hb

My first close encounter
with a humpback was shortly after I had moved to Hawaii in '82. My daughter and I were sitting on the sea wall talking and suddenly I saw something huge and dark out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look all that remained was a huge splash of water. As we sat there with our mouths hanging open, up it came again, a very large humpback whale in a full upright breach!

It was magnificent. Before I realized what I was doing my hands came together to applaud. It was just so awesome! The show went on for another 15 minutes with her calf joining in, then up went the tail flukes and she was gone. I got into scuba diving a few months later and got to see many more awe inspiring displays by these great and gentle giants.

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In Hawaii humpbacks can be sited in shallow coastal water, usually less than 300 ft. As the islands are actually enormous undersea mountains (the Big Island from the sea floor is around 30,000 feet), the land drops off rather dramatically which means at times you get to observe them quite close to shore.

My next magical humpback experience was the first time I heard "The Song". It was during my scuba certification class through Jack's Diving Locker on the Big Island. I felt so privileged and completely blown away! I was sure they would appear any moment not realizing they may have been 5 to 10 miles away.


photo credit: OAR/NOAA Central Library
by- R. Wicklund

Some years
you can hear them
nearly every time you
stick your head in the
water, especially January
and February.
Research has shown that
while humpbacks are in
Hawaii the mature males
all sing the same complex
song, which changes somewhat
over the season and
even more from year
to year.

The only story I ever heard of aggressive behavior was that of a rather pushy photographer who got a bit of a "fluke slap" from a mother that didn't appreciate him getting so close to her baby. When he told me this story he pointed out that whales are very intelligent creatures and he felt she had purposefully gone easy on him. It is actually illegal to approach them, but they have been known to rather fearlessly approach boats and occasionally snorkelers. I've seen several of them "frolic" around moored or drifting boats. It's quite a show.

2 humpbacks

photo credit: OAR/NOAA Central Library
by- R. Wicklund

Mother & Baby

photo Perfect Visions

The ocean around the Hawaiian Islands is one of the most important Pacific Humpback Whale habitats as it is the only place in the United States where Humpbacks reproduce. Humpbacks migrate from near the poles where they feed, to tropical and subtropical waters like Hawaii where they come every year between November and March for breeding, calving and nursing activities.

About 3,000 to 5,000 humpback whales migrate to the Hawaiian Islands every year. Sadly this is estimated to be two thirds of the entire North Pacific Humpback population. The attitude toward the humpbacks in Hawaii is one of respect and admiration. It is so sad to know that in other parts of the world they are still being murdered and maimed; and then there's pollution which is a world wide problem. Now there is the new threat of the Navy's use of more powerful sonar. Check out some of the links below for more information about marine life, our eco-system and possible alternatives to see what we can all do to help solve these problems!

2 humpbacks

Gallery Index
Handcrafted Creations: Dolphin & Whale Boxes
My Underwater Photo Gallery I: People
My Underwater Photo Gallery II: Green Sea Turtles
My Underwater Photo Gallery II: More Sea Turtles
My Underwater Photo Gallery III: More Marine Life
My Underwater Photo Gallery IV: Frogfish
My Underwater Photo Gallery V: Octopus
My Underwater Photo Gallery VI: Sharks
Underwater Photo Gallery VII: Dolphins
Underwater Photo Gallery VIII: Humpback Whales


ET Earth Trust My Favorite!
This is one of the most effective and innovative wildlife conservation organizations. Cost effective protection programs and a wealth of information including an online free marine biology study course and free internships.
Also see:"Mystery of the Silvery Rings"
NOAA National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Oceanic, Earth and Space Sciences; rescue and preservation technology; education & teachers resources. Extensive photo library, from space images to coastal shores: marine life from great whales to the smallest plankton.

American Cet. Society American Cetacean Society
One of the oldest protection agencies. Lots of different ways to help. Things you can actually do besides just monetary assistance. Great info.
Please go to their
"Urgent Action Alert" link concerning the sonar threat.


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