By A.R. Royo
Hawaiian Language – Whale Words
Kohola: (noun) Humpback whale
Palaoa: (noun) Sperm whale
‘O Kohola: (verb) To whale
Huelopoki: (noun) Whale boat
Hawaii Whale Watching
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in the Hawaiian Islands. More than 12,000 endangered Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrate from the cold waters of Alaska each year to mate and calve in tropical Hawaiian waters during the winter months between November and May.
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities during Hawaii’s winter months for tourists and locals alike. While Maui whale tours are more numerous than on the other Hawaiian islands, you can sign up for a Kauai whale watch, Big Island whale tour and Oahu Whale watching as well.
During their annual sojourn here, these whales exhibit many interesting and acrobatic behaviors that can easily be seen and enjoyed from the numerous whale watch tours available throughout the Hawaiian Islands. The name “humpback” describes the motion it makes as it arches its back out of the water in preparation for a dive.
Humpback Whale Behavior
Humpbacks often Breach high out of the water, and then slap the water as they come back down. Sometimes they twirl around while breaching. This behavior may be merely for play, or may be used to loosen skin parasites, or have some unknown social meaning
Spyhopping is another Humpback behavior occurring when the whale pokes its head out of the water for up to 30 seconds to take a look around. The Pectoral Slap – slapping a fin against the surface of the water is another unexplained Humpback behavior. Head Slaps may aid in visibility. In competitive pods, head slaps and head lunges usually have an unfortunate recipient whale.
Humpbacks also stick their tail out of the water, swing it around, and then slap it on the water’s surface, making a very loud sound – this is called Lobtailing. The meaning or purpose of lobtailing is unknown, but may be done as a warning to the rest of the pod. Humpbacks lobtail more when the seas are rough and stormy.
Hawaii Whale History
At the beginning of the 1800s, Hawaiian waters were filled with hundreds whaling vessels, hunting the valuable Sperm Whale (Pyseter Catodon), not the Humpback Whale. Both the ports of Honolulu on Oahu, and Lahaina on Maui, became popular stopovers for whaling ships. But due to the arrival of the Christian missionaires, the plundering of the Sperm Whale populations and the U.S. Civil War, the whaling industry did not last much beyond mid-century in Hawaii. Humpback Whales apparently did not begin their massive migrations to Hawaiian waters until the 20th century.
Humpback Whale Facts
• Humpbacks travel in pods – large, temporary, loose groups that last only a few days.
• The exception is the strong and lasting bond between mother and calves.
• Humpbacks migrate at 3-9 mph for over 3,100 miles during each seasonal migration.
• During migrations, they cover over 1,000 miles per month with no rest.
• Humpback Whales can dive for up to 30 minutes.
• Humpbacks can dive to a depth of 500-700 feet.
• A calf is born to a female every 1-3 years.
• The gestation period is 11-12 months.
• The calf is born tail first near the surface in warm, shallow waters.
• Within 30 minutes of its birth the baby whale can swim.
• The newborn calf is about 14 feet long and weighs about 2.5 tons
• The baby is nurtured with its mother’s milk and is weaned in about 11 months.
• The mother and calf may stay together for a year or longer.
• Calves drink 100 pounds of milk each day.
• Humpback Whales reach puberty at 4-7 years old, and maturity at 15 years.
• Females are slightly larger than males, as with all baleen whales.
• The deeply-notched flukes (tail) are up to 12 feet wide.
• Humpbacks have a small dorsal fin toward the flukes.
• The four-chambered heart of the average Humpback Whale weighs about 430 lbs.
• Humpback Whales have 14-35 throat grooves that run from the chin to the navel.
• Humpbacks have huge, mottled white flippers, the largest of any whale.
• Humpbacks cooperate in hunting and have developed a method of rounding up prey.
• Humpback Whales (like all baleen whales) are seasonal feeders and carnivores.
• Humpbacks eat appx. 5000 lbs of plankton, krill and small, schooling fish each day.
• Humpbacks eat only during the feeding season in cold waters (about 120 days).
• They breathe air at the surface through 2 blowholes near the top of the head.
• Humpback Whales normally swim 3-9 mph, but can go up to 15-17 mph in bursts.
• Humpback Whales have the noisiest and most imaginative whales songs.
• Humpback songs have the largest range of frequencies used by whales, 20-9,000 Hz.
• Only males have been recorded singing.
• There are 3 separate Humpback Whale populations: North Pacific Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, Southern Hemisphere.
• Humpback whales have a life expectancy of 45-50 years.
• It is estimated there are 20,000-25,000 Humpback Whales world-wide.
• Being an endangered species, it is illegal to come closer than 100 yards to Humpback Whales.
[tags]hawaii whales,hawaii whale watching,hawaii whale facts,hawaii humpback[/tags]