We ended June and entered July with our “Wild About Whales” week at Ocean Camp. Although the fastest recorded migration for Hawaii’s humpback whales is 39 days, campers covered this approximate 3,000 mile journey in only four days! Participating in a variety of activities, campers explored humpback whale feeding and calving grounds and learned about the respective whale behaviors occurring in these locations such as bubble net feeding and nursing.
By understanding whale anatomy and research techniques, campers also learned how to identify individual whales from their fluke which is unique to each individual whale similar to how every human has a different fingerprint! We even experienced a behind-the-scenes tour of our research lab where we received tips from the experts while being surrounded by a collection of humpback whale data recorded over the last 30 years.
From fluke to stomach, we dove into and digested the different anatomical features of the whale. After examining the cluttery contents found in its stomach (albeit a non-invasive cardboard-constructed, brown-boxed belly), campers were motivated to partake in a beach clean-up along the south shore of Maui. In about 30 minutes, they accumulated over 400 pieces of trash. Cigarettes butts and monofilament fishing line along with bottles and cans galore were ingloriously represented in this raid for rubbish removal, but campers delighted in their dutiful stewardship and were even recognized and appreciated by fellow beach patrons.
As the camp week closed, our campers celebrated America’s Independence Day and the freedom this day represents so that we can be a voice to create change. Among captivity, whaling and SONAR, one of the major concerns our campers voiced was the effects of litter and marine debris.
Ultimately, we learned to be “Wild About Whales” is to be both whale and well informed. By acquiring knowledge and awareness, we are empowered to protect freely a habitat where inhabitants can live freely — free of debris, captivity, SONAR and other conservation issues. We dream big at Ocean Camp!