The Story of Sandy

Animal #: NP0006

Sandy is a humpback whale that was sighted off the coast of Maui, Hawai’i 1,000 yards from Puamana on April 1, 2012. Kimberly Hale of Montana named Sandy in memory of her mom, Sandra Plate.

Sandra (Sandy) Plate was born on October 16, 1936 in Anchorage, Alaska and lived on O’ahu for several years after World War II. She had fond memories of the island and shared many stories and traditions of the island with her children and grandchildren. Sandra had the opportunity to travel back to Hawai’i to the island of Maui in 2000 with her daughters and grandchildren. After that visit, she continued to spend a few weeks in Maui each year. One of Sandra’s favorite activities was to watch the whales. She spent many mornings and afternoons with her binoculars admiring the whales. Sandra was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She had such a positive attitude and made her final trip to Maui in March of 2012 with many members of her extended family. Sandra passed away on June 30, 2012 and her memory will live on in the hearts of her family. Sandra believed in the Pacific Whale Foundation and the importance to preserve the whales for future generations.

It is touching that Sandy, the humpback whale, was named after a woman who made regular trips to Maui as humpback whales do the same. The humpback whales in Hawaiian waters migrate here annually from Alaska, their feeding grounds. The theory is that the warmer and more sheltered waters of Hawai’i provide ideal conditions for the humpback whales to mate and birth their young. 

Sandy was observed tail slapping in an escort, mom, and calf pods. Humpback whales are solitary by nature and the most common pod sizes are mom and calf or mom, calf, and escort. The escort whale is a male that is attempting to mate with the mom. From the evidence gathered so far, it is uncertain if Sandy is the mom or the escort whale. It will take future sightings to confirm the sex of Sandy. It is very difficult to assess the gender of a humpback whale, as the researcher needs a good look at the underside of the whale. We must rely on behaviors and the presence of a calf to help us identify if the whale is male or female. When the calf is seen in the same proximity to two adult whales, it is difficult to ascertain which is the mother.

By adopting Sandy, you have helped to support Pacific Whale Foundation’s ongoing studies of humpback whales. We look forward to future sightings of Sandy and the opportunity to learn more about this whale.