After a week of bad weather, ROB is back in action!

Aloha kakou!

After all the heavy rain, gusty winds, locally higher seas, and a special Marine Warning for some island waters, it was a gorgeous week in Maui Nui and the Research On Board (ROB) program is back in action! ROB utilizes the Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF)commercial whale watching vessel to conduct research. The main aims of ROB Program are: to determine how often humpback whale “surprise encounters” occur, and its relation to location, time of day, environmental variables, vessel behavior; collect photo-identification of odontocetes(toothed-whales); and find out the rate of occurrence of interactions between species. I feel very fortunate to be part of this program and it has already been an amazing experience.

This week I had a remarkable close encounter with a humpback whale mother and calf. This relationship is the longest one in humpback whale social structure. Humpbacks usually associate for feeding and mating purpose, but these bonds only last anywhere from a few minutes, to a few days; on the other hand, mother and calf may stay together for a year or longer.

I was on board of the PWF whale watching vessel Ocean Intrigue, and it was not a “surprise encounter”, which is define as an encounter with a humpback whale within 300 yards off the boat without previous knowledge of its position; the naturalist on board sighted mother and calf, and captain directed the boat toward them stopping and shutting off engine at about 200 yards from the pair; amazingly mother brought calf over to the boat. In Hawai’i and other humpbacks breeding grounds around the world, mother and calf often spend time in shallower or more inshore waters than the adult population and usually the mother is very protective of her calf. In PWF whale watching vessels, naturalists have noticed that mother tends to position herself between calf and vessel and sometimes pushing curious calf away from the boat. Luckily this time calf and mom wanted to investigate the boat and spent a long time with us; swimming around and under the boat. Stunning to watch the interaction between mother and calf so close!

Mahalo to Captain Joe and the naturalists/crew (Megan, Robin, and Andrea) of Ocean Intrigue for the great whale watching trip with mother and calf fantastic encounter. I am very excited for this season!

A hui hou,

Itana

Comments

Anonymous (visitor) says:

The research seems fascinating. Keep it up with the good work !!

Anonymous (visitor) says:

Itana,
Well done! Keep us update with the research results.