Humpback whale breaching off Maui
I was in Hawaii humpback heaven and it was amazing!
One of the best places to access humpback whale heaven is off the island of Maui from the city of Lahaina. This is where you can find tons of whale watching boats to take you out to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary where you get to enjoy the magic of these magnificent animals.
During the trip, I went whale watching almost every day with Ultimate Whale Watch and it was the best whale watching experience of my life because no matter how rocky it was, I did not get seasick! Normally, I have to load up on Bonine or Dramamine to get through a trip, but since Ultimate Whale Watch uses zodiacs, I was low to the water and able to enjoy the animals I love drug free.
Even better, I saw tons of humpback whales! They were everywhere doing every whale behavior imaginable. During the first whale watching trip on the first day just as we were leaving the harbor, a humpback whale greeted us with a fantastic breach. I remember thinking…wow, this is really going to be awesome. And it was!
I’m still going through my photos, but to start I’m sharing the first breach I caught on camera (not the first breach I saw). I like this shot (see above) because the whale is aligned with the building in the background. Is the whale imitating architecture or is architecture imitating in the whale?
More on humpback heaven coming soon…
Photo credit: Carla Mitroff
On Sunday, January 26, 2014, a lucky group of whale watchers got to witness gray whales mating just off the backside of Catalina Island. This exciting encounter included a great flash of a gray whale’s penis. Suddenly a male’s privates were not so private if you know what I mean.
It’s not super common to catch whales in the act off Southern California, but common enough that whale watchers have dubbed a whale’s penis the “pink floyd” (see photo above for explanation). Here are a few interesting facts about a gray whale’s penis:
- It’s about six feet long (gray whales average 40 to 45 feet, so that’s just par for the course).
- It’s stored within the gray whale’s abdomen underneath the skin (otherwise it would cause a lot of drag).
- It’s whipped out and retracted through an opening within the skin called the uro-genital slit.
- It has great elasticity and can be moved all around and positioned by the gray whale for maximum effect and in this case maximum spectacle.
If you would like to see more of this gray whale mating encounter, some of it was also captured on video by Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari (see below). A few dolphins also seemed interested in the action, along with a paddleboarder who seems way too close. My favorite is when someone yells, “Get a lagoon!”
All I can say is that I really hope to see a pink floyd myself one day, but from a distance of course, definitely from a distance.
(A big thanks to Carla Mitroff for generously sharing her photo for this post! Also, for more fun gray whale facts, check out my post Gray whales: on the road again.)