Whales at Sunrise

We got up at 5:00 a.m. this morning in time to be at Lahaina Harbor and catch a sunrise whale watching cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation.  It was a beautiful morning, and although April is near the end of the humpback whale breeding season when the whales head for Alaska, we managed to get a great view of several whales -- a baby and mother whale, and a male escort whale eager to breed before heading north.

The shallow and protected water between the islands of Maui and Moloka'i is home to thousands of humpback whales during the breeding season from November to May.  We learned a lot about whales today, including how big they are -- the mother whale was at least 50 feet long. Just think graceful big yellow school bus.

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to view these magnificent and graceful creatures in the wild.  I thought it was especially amazing to see the interactions between the female whale and her baby.  At one point she had the baby on her head.  Another time, the baby was underneath her, probably nursing (according to the biologist on the cruise).  And another time they were just playing together in the water.  It really seemed like they had affection for each other.

Of course photos never do the experience justice.  And I'm proud to say I just observed and marveled in the moment as I watched most of the action, rather than trying to capture it with my camera.  Even so, I managed a few shots that give a sense of what we saw.

My whale watching companions as we headed out of Lahaina Harbor.

Sunrise over the West Maui Mountains.

The female whale's flukes as she makes a deep dive.

Mom and baby whale side by side with visible dorsal fins.

The baby whale slapping the water with his/her pectoral fin. 

Clouds casting shadows on the island of Moloka'i, viewed from the channel between the islands.


So you are having a really bad time then? Kidding. It looks awesome!

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