Humpback Whale Behavior Captured in Video and Photos

March 30, 2016, 4:53 PM HST · Updated March 30, 4:53 PM
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*Video: NOAA MMHSRP (permit 18786)/FAA Exp. #12618

The humpback whale season continues in Hawaiʻi with active pods performing some interesting behavior, including a “tail sail” that caught the attention of Sanctuary scientists and breathtaking breaches captured by local photographers here on Maui.

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    The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary recently released rare video showing a humpback whale with its tail out of the water, “seemingly catching the wind like a sail.” The video was filmed during recent field operations conducted by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Collaborative Center for Unmanned Technologies.

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    In the video, a humpback mother and calf are observed swimming and diving in the sanctuary off Maui’s leeward coast. “At one point, the mother appears to be doing a headstand and drifting with her tail out of the water,” according to the HIHWNMS.

    Throughout the season, Maui photographers Robert and Ellen captured the daily graces of the gigantic creatures, mostly along the the south Maui shoreline in Kīhei.

    The humpback season in Hawaiʻi continues with the third and final Ocean Count of 2016 season conducted by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary from the shores of O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i.  A separate whale count on Maui was conducted by the Pacific Whale Foundation in February.

    More than 403 volunteers gathered during the recent HIHWNMS count, which serves to promote public awareness about humpback whales, the sanctuary, and shore-based whale watching opportunities. The count provides a snapshot of humpback whales sightings from the shoreline with participants tallying humpback whale sightings and documenting the animals’ surface behavior during the survey.

    Volunteers collected data from 50 sites off of three islands on March 26, 2016, with a total of 94 whale sightings seen during the 9 to 9:15 a.m. time period, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count.

    “Besides generating the count, behavior, and mapped data sheets, the volunteers were able to educate over 2,200 members of the public who stopped by for more information during the three counts this whale season,“ said Jean Souza, Kauaʻi coordinator in a press release.

    The sanctuary, which is administered by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawai‘i through the Department of Land and Natural Resources, protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaiian waters where they migrate each winter to mate, calve and nurse their young.

    Humpback whale tail photographed by Robert Raimo on Feb. 29, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Humpback whale tail photographed by Robert Raimo on Feb. 29, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Humpback whale photographed by Robert Raimo (Feb. 2016). Courtesy photo.

    Humpback whale photographed by Robert Raimo (Feb. 2016). Courtesy photo.

    Ellen Raimo captured this image of breaching humpback swimming in Maui waters on March 3, 2016. She called it the best day of the season for whale photography with lots of activity reported on the water that day. Courtesy photo.

    Ellen Raimo captured this image of breaching humpback swimming in Maui waters on March 3, 2016. She called it the best day of the season for whale photography. Courtesy photo.

    Robert and Ellen Raimo caught these images of a mom and baby humpback swimming in Maui waters on March 6, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Robert and Ellen Raimo caught these images of a mom and baby humpback swimming in Maui waters on March 6, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Robert and Ellen Raimo caught these images of a mom and baby humpback swimming in Maui waters on March 6, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Robert and Ellen Raimo caught these images of a mom and baby humpback swimming in Maui waters on March 6, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Ellen Raimo caught this images of a humpback whale breaching of of Kīhei, Maui on March 3, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Ellen Raimo caught this images of a humpback whale breaching of of Kīhei, Maui on March 3, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Robert and Ellen Raimo caught these images of a male humpback breaching of of Kīhei, Maui on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    Robert and Ellen Raimo caught these images of a male humpback breaching of of Kīhei, Maui on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Courtesy photo.

    humpback whale robert and ellen raimo

    Robert and Ellen Raimo caught these images of a male humpback breaching of of Kīhei, Maui on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Courtesy photo.

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