December 20, 2010

One of the most incredible and unforgettable experiences of my life.

Disclaimer: I just may go on a little tangent.

One of the things I was dead set on doing while we were in Maui was to do a little whale watching.  This pod of humpback whales feed on krill in Alaska in the summer months, then make the journey to Hawaii during the winter months to breed, give birth, and train their babies to be strong for the journey back to Alaska.  They love the warm waters of Hawaii because it is safe and virtually predator free.

So we got up bright and early to catch a boat at 7 am (which really wasn't that bad since it's basically 10am Utah time).  On our journey out to sea, our eyes were peeled for whales.  We saw a few off in the distance, primarily a little baby doing some jumps.  But then, all the sudden, right next to our boat, three big whales were breaching and spouting out of their blowholes.  Wow. Wow. Triple wow.  Our guide figured that it was two male humpbacks trying to impress a female.  After all, it was mating season!

This is the way whales should be seen and enjoyed by us humans.  I am really not a fan of sea world at all. It is completely inorganic and unnatural for whales of that massive size to be swimming in circles in a tank with virtually no stimulation.  It's like putting us in a windowless circular padded room.  It is unnatural and inorganic for them to be waving to the crowd and splashing and launching trainers in the air. I'm sure it is amazing to see, but  I'm just really not a fan.  Whales should be seen in their natural habitat doing things that come natural to them. Seeing them this way is so much more awe-inspiring. 

The first time I saw humpbacks was in 2007 hiking to the Makapuu lighthouse on Oahu.  It changed my life.  This time around, it was just as breathtaking.  Seeing these whales brought tears to my eyes.  They truly are just the most incredible creatures.  Here are some photos I took from our phenomenal morning.

Brant is armed and ready to see some whales!


He's so cute!

We were on a boat, but another way of seeing them is in a raft.  The rafts can legally get much closer to the whales than the boats.  The whales are federally protected since they are endangered.  The great news is, since poaching whales became illegal in the 70s, their population has grown exponentially and they are not afraid of boats or rafts anymore so they swim right up to us and show off!

I'm pretty sure they got splashed by this tail slap

Do you know what is hilarious?  On the boat they had for sale photos of whales just like mine (but of course mine are better hehe) for "just in case" you didn't get the photo you wanted.  At 9 frames per second, I've got my shots thank you! No need to purchase your stinkin photos. hmmm...maybe I should sell them my prints. hehehe 

Check out this guy.  He willingly swam within the legally protected distance of our boat which was fine by me!

Go on wit your bad self male humpback! Show that female what chu got!

If I were the female, I'd be pretty darn impressed.

I'll end with my favorite shot from the morning, a full breach. Can anyone say i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e???  I just love these whales with all my heart!

Brant took some video, I'll post that later. :)


Jonya said...

Wow, Kate. These are amazing. More, more, more!!!

Erika Sullivan said...

So awesome. What an incredible experience.