Maui’s humpback whales
Yesterday was not just another day in the office at HAWAII Magazine.
I hopped on a boat with the staff of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, as they went out on a routine research and rescue mission in the waters off Maui.
This wasn’t like my commercial whale watching cruise last year. These were the scientists who watch over the humpback whales and I needed authorization under a federal permit to join them.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to rescue any whales entangled in debris. However, we found ourselves surrounded by humpbacks, breaching, slapping the water with pectoral fins (pictured above), and singing as they glided underneath us, big as buses.
The sanctuary is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), dedicated to help protect Hawaii’s humpback whales. As many as 10,000 humpback whales travel from Alaska to Hawaii every year.
For our July/August 2008 issue of HAWAII Magazine, I’ll write a story about the NOAA heroes who work with these amazing creatures.
But till then, here’s my video of a humpback whale breaching in the blue waters of the Pacific, between Lanai and Molokai. (In Hawaii, it’s illegal to approach a humpback whale closer than 100 yards by sea. The photo and video may look close, but I’ve got a camera with a great zoom function).
It was better than sitting at my desk all day.