Before the rains set in yesterday about 150 volunteers participated in the second whale count of the season led by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The counts are held on the islands of Oahu and Hawaii and Kauai where participation helps NOAA gather information about the whales and their behavior in Hawaiian waters. This data led our Governor, Neil Abercrombie to declare the month of February as Humpback Whales Awareness Month.
Conditions at Makahuena Point yesterday were very good despite inclement weather and vog being brought up from the Big Island due to the southerly winds. Surprisingly, this enabled volunteers to have good viewing conditions since glare off the ocean surface was not limiting visibility.
While the average sightings on Kauai were down from 8 per 15 minute intervals in last months first count, to 4 yesterday it was considered a great success. Makahuena Point observations averaged 7 sightings.
Our friend Bruce, who has been volunteering for the past 10 years at the Point considers it the best site on Kauai for viewing these giants as they breach.
Whale Breaching Theories
Surface Observations. Since whales can see well above water it is believed that they can check their surroundings above the water surface.
Courting. Breaching may be a ritual for courting a mate. The bluffing and bluster associated with finding a mate may intimidate young adults and attract the opposite sex.
Grooming. Breaching may sluff off dead skin and barnacles thus streamlining the animal and reducing drag.
Researchers have found that humpback whale populations in Hawaiian waters are increasing annually by 7 percent. The dated collected by the volunteers will help to corroborate these findings.
The seasons final count will be on March 31 you can volunteer your time by registering for this event here. Prior to the Saturday count you will attend a class to learn about these fascinating and endangered creatures. It’s one of the best things to do on Kauai.