Anyone who climbs aboard a vessel this time of the year and heads for the open ocean off Maui can expect to see HUMPBACK WHALES . There are so many of them that most boat companies don’t hesitate to guarantee sightings.
It’s hard to miss a 40-TON HUMPBACK when it propels its 45-foot bulk to the surface, and then disappears in an enormous, salt-water splash!
Every year, humpback whales swim 3,000 miles from their summer feeding grounds in Alaska to mate and calve in Hawai‘i’s clear, warm waters. The whales don’t arrive en masse, but researchers say there is a predictable order to their appearance in our waters. Generally, NUMBERS PEAK LATE DECEMBER THROUGH MID-APRIL .
Protected under endangered species laws, the humpback population is growing. In fact, an estimated 10,000 humpbacks are expected to cruise through Hawai‘i’s waters seasonally, coming and going at their own pace.
Humpbacks exhibit a variety of behaviors that should be visible in one form or another from BOATS AND SHORELINE LOOKOUTS . You might see a whale blow, which refers to the cloud of water vapor produced above the animal’s head when it exhales. You might see a tail slap, a pectoral slap or, if you’re lucky, a breach.
The best views from dry land are usually from Maui’s south and west shores.