Majestic Maui Migration

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate. She’s back in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but this time on Maui – enjoy!

I recently took the trip of a lifetime to Maui during whale watching season.  While I’ve been fortunate enough to whale watch in places like Alaska, Channel Islands National Park and Maine, I have never seen anything like the whales in Maui in February.  Each year around December/January through about March/April, North Pacific Humpback Whales migrate down from Alaska (bye, Monette!) to Hawaii to mate, give birth, and let their babies bulk up before the long journey back north.  These whales love the waters around Maui, and I’ve never been to a place where you can sit on the beach or at a restaurant on the coast and watch these amazing creatures from land.

Humpback Whale Tail

Tails from Maui

But you can get an even better view from the water!  I did two whale watching cruises, both with the Pacific Whale Foundation.  I’d highly recommend any cruise with PWF (and check out their amazing gift shop while you’re there!), because the money from your cruise goes to protect our oceans through research, education and conservation programs.  While all of their cruises are great experiences, if you have the time and the money and are an early bird like me, your best option is to go on a smaller boat as early in the day as possible.  We took the larger Ocean Discovery on a Saturday afternoon at 2 pm and there was plenty of whale watching, but it was nothing like the intimate photo safari experience on Sunday morning at 7 am aboard the Ocean Spirit catamaran.  With a  smaller, quieter boat, we could turn off the engine when we got 100 yards away from the whales, and sometimes they would come closer to us.  This humpback whale was curious and “spy hopped” right by our boat, poking its head up to check us out!

Humpback Whale Spy Hopping

Humpback Whale “Spy Hopping”

We were lucky to see many mom and baby pairs, which are easy to spot when you know what to look for: more frequent and smaller blows (the babies need to breathe a lot more often than the grownups), and a floating protective Mom beside them (Mom is always nearby!).

Humpback Whale Mom & Baby

Baby (left) and Mom (right) Humpback Whales

I really enjoyed the photo ops on this whale watch.  There was a photographer on board if you had any questions, and I was able to see and photograph whales in a way I never had before.  Fun fact – did you know Humpback Whales (and all baleen whales) have two blowholes side by side (kind of like a human nose) vs. toothed whales that only have one?

Humpback Whale Blow

Humpback Whale – Two Blows Up!

We also saw Maui by air via a Maverick Helicopter Tour.  It’s a lot tougher to get good photos from a helo, but it was really amazing to see whales from such a different perspective!  Below, a mom and baby (on the right) are “escorted” by a male (not the baby’s daddy!).

Humpback Whale Mom, Baby & Escort from Helicopter

Humpback Whales by Air: (From right to Left) Mom, Baby, and Male Escort

Click on any of the photos above to see a higher res version on Flickr, and click here to see the entire photo set from the trip.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some whaley good photos!

Editors note 2:  
Thanks again MK – it was wonderful to read about your trip and see your photos.  Hawaii is still on my bucket list!  Also readers, if you’re going to visit, you might want to take a look at the Hawaii category on my on-line friend Jeff Stamer’s blog.  He’s been there several times and has some amazing photos and tips. 

©2018, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

2 thoughts on “Majestic Maui Migration

    1. Thanks Jeff! It’s nice to have someone else write a post every once in a while.

      I’m glad to point people to your site. Your Hawaii page has some very good information.

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