Black Friday Surveys

While many Americans rushed to benefit from amazing deals on Black Friday after Thanksgiving, PWF’s Research Team took advantage of some calmer waters near Ma’alaea Bay.  Heading south towards the bay, the crew were discussing some details relating to our new Hawaii humpback research permit (active starting in January!) when only a few hundred yards behind Ocean Protector a full size humpback breached!  This adult was not only part of a pod in competition for a place next to a female, but was also the first humpback sighting of the season for a couple of the researchers on board!  What a way to start the day and whale season.  We spent a few moments observing before heading on to focus on dolphin transects.

Only five minutes into our first transect line we encountered a widely spread out pod of spotted dolphins.  We stayed long enough to collect basic data (pod size, behavior, etc.) and continued on.  The rest of the transect lines proved to be “dolphin-less.”  From a research perspective, however, this is significant data when learning about where dolphins are distributed.

As we traveled back towards Lahaina Harbor the team kept a keen eye out, anxious for more whale action.  Sure enough, directly in our path ahead we saw blows.  With our humpback permit not yet in affect, we followed our normal PWF Be Whale Aware guidelines of approaching slowly within 400 yards, and the US Federal laws limiting our approach to 100 yards.  This pair of humpbacks did not seem too concerned with the 100 yard approach and came over to us.  This was our first encounter with humpbacks on Ocean Protector.  At one point we could see the white pectoral flippers of what we think to be a female extending beneath both sides of the vessel as she swam from the stern (back) to the bow (front).  PWF’s Ocean Discovery (on a whale search) came over to join our amazing encounter, and also seemed to intrigue the pair of whales.  Back and forth between Ocean Protector and Ocean Discovery, these whales inspired guests and researchers alike, offering something no store price deal could ever give.