Humpbacked Whales of Hawaii

Posted in Australia & Pacific | March 17, 2010 | Comment Now

The 1960s and 70s saw the first signs of danger to the species of the biggest animals in the world. I am talking about none other than the humpbacked whales. This was the time when commercial hunting was amply prevalent. It seemed to me as if our children would never lay their eyes on a whale again. The world stood in danger of losing its natural wonder. But, this was not to be the case. Therefore, the ‘Au’au Channel that lies between the Hawaii islands of Maui and Lāna’i is home to these mammoth, majestic giants.

Humpback whales can weigh up to 45 tons. These whales rise and spout anywhere and everywhere. They roll in spiral movements and slap the water with their fins and tails. I was spellbound to see their movements. It is common to see the whales leap with their tales clearing the surface of water. Their chins reach an astonishing distance of 40 feet. They fall back with a characteristic ‘THUMP’.

The 1960s saw a ban imposed on their killing. This was the time when these whales thrived in large numbers. Today, a few thousand are scattered worldwide. The census that tracks the number of whales has been called SPLASH. It is the largest and most intensive census with regards to whale population. The whale population of the North Pacific region could be anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000. Nearly half of this population gathers around Hawaii from November to May.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary comprises an area of 1370 square miles. As the whales leapt out of the water, I lost my breath in sheer astonishment of their size. Each leaping whale draws huge cheers from the crowds thronging the boats. They truly mesmerize by making a splash in the sunshine.

The whales can be viewed for a very short time as they part the shimmer of the ocean in order to breathe. Humpback whales are the most active of all whale species at the water surface. They spend nearly 90 percent of their lives deep within the waters. But what exactly do they do down there?

They swim primarily through rough and remote seas. This makes it difficult for researchers to track them. Therefore, much of their ways remain a mystery. They are the most grand of all earth species. The two most important facets of the lives of whales include courtship and birth.

Many observers belonging to the Whale Trust have noticed that the submerged males are chanting the humpback’s famous song. These incantations have filled the seas with strange but beautiful music. Some of the female whales spend their time looking after their young ones.

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