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Scuba Diving Hawaii- Humpback Whales

Whales in Hawaii

Humpback Whale Season - December to May

At Oahu Diving we occasionally get the honors of seeing and yes swimming with these majestic big mammals of the sea. There has been numerous times where we have actually had humpback whales swim right by us on a particular reef. This is both lucky and very rewarding. The chances of seeing whales during the season is very good. The chances of diving or swimming with humpback whales are a different story. Whales when seen from the boat look slow and sluggish. Next to these mammoth sheds a whole new meaning on humpback whale speed. Whales, with their huge tail can out muscle any diver and most boats as well. This is why if you do get a lucky encounter with a whale it will usually be just under a minute before the whale is long gone.

To the Hawaiian people, the humpback whale is a Hawaiian god called Kanaloa- the god of animals in the ocean.

Humpback whales are pretty much found in all oceans both cold and warm. Most people do not realize that humpback whales migrate long distances to reach the Hawaiian archipelago. Running from December to May visitors and even scuba divers in Hawaii can usually get a glimpse of these magnificent mammals from the shore line, from whale watching boats and while scuba diving in Oahu. Humpback whales travel roughly 2000 to 3000 miles one way to reach the warm blue tropic waters of the Hawaiian islands. It is said that this is one of the longest migrations in animal species. Can you imagine the round trip for these whales? That's over four thousand miles or maybe more!

Where do these humpback whales go you are asking ?

Most of the North Pacific stock of humpback whales go on vacation winter in three near shore lower latitude mating and birthing areas; western Mexico, Hawaii and southern Japan. During the spring and summer they migrate as far as 3,000 miles to feeding areas over the continental shelf of the Pacific Rim, from the coast of California and north to the Bering Sea. Humpbacks continuously travel at approximately three to seven miles per hour with very few stops. Marine biologists are still baffled on how these gentle giants navigate to preciously around the globe. No G.P.S here. Mother Nature at its best.

Fact-Did you know that the Hawaiian islands may contain the largest seasonal population of humpback whales in the world.

Humpback whales eat a lot and have plate-like bristles known as baleen in their mouth instead of teeth that they use to feed on krill and small schooling fishes. A variety of feeding methods are used including bubble net feeding and lunge feeding. Humpbacks rarely feed in their wintering areas. Humpback whales may or may not feed along their migratory routes.

Did you know that the only state in the United States where humpback whales calve, mate and nurse their young is Hawaii ? Humpbacks seem to find Hawaii an ideal location- and we all know why. Good underwater visibility, warm water and the lack of natural predators. Visitors in Hawaii can see mother humpback whales breaching alongside their calves. Male humpback whales can be seen competing with one another for females as well. Which is not a good time to jump in and swim with these huge mammals. Although many species of whales and dolphins are vocal, humpback whales are best known for their songs. The “humpback song” consists of sequences of sounds that are repeated over and over in a pattern. Patterns of humpback whale sounds change from year to year and can vary in different parts of the ocean. Scientists have found that male humpback whales sing while in their breeding grounds. Other humpback whale sounds have also been recorded in feeding areas. Each of the sounds made by the humpback is thought to have a distinct purpose. Research continues on this fascinating topic. Listen to a humpback whale song recorded in sanctuary waters.

Humpbacks spend over 90% of their lives under the surface of the water. They are often called "gentle giants" because of the tendency of these large mammals to glide slowly and gracefully while underwater. Swimming with these big whales can be dangerous, the shear size is quit intimidating not to mention the fact if you were accidentally hit by the tail.