Maui Whale Festivities

Aloha from the winter home of the Humpbacks!

Guests from Alaska recently told me that their home, Alaska, was considered the kitchen to the Humpback whales, and our home, Hawaii, was considered their bedroom. The gentle giants come to the Hawaiian islands to birth their young, feed them, and mate again before heading back up to Alaska to eat krill, plankton and small fish.

For thirty years, the Pacific Whale Foundation has sponsored the "Maui Whale Festival." This festival is considered the longest running and largest festival celebration on Maui. Whale Day this year was held on the 20th of Feb, with a record number of people attending. The event was held at Kalama Park in Kihei with environmental displays, live entertainment with some of the great local talent, and ono restaurant food booths.

The celebration continues into next weekend with the 2010 Great Whale Count. The count begins at 8 am on Feb 27th, and runs until noon. Many volunteers in Hawaii participate in this event, "all hands on deck" to count the whales. Please contact the Pacific Whale Foundation to find out how you can participate. Great Whale Count 2009 logged in with 1,010 sightings. There are an estimated 10,000-15,000 Humpback whales world wide.

I am posting a couple of shots of the Whale Festival, some keiki (kid) fun, (what's a party without a blow up castle with a whale on top?). My friend, Mike Eilers, took these shots of the whales while diving in Tahiti. The calf and mother (below) is especially endearing. It is magical to watch the mother teaching her "baby" all the humpback antics. The mother and calf have a long lasting bond, with a calf nursing up to 100 lbs of mother's milk daily. This will fortify them for their long trip back to Alaska.

No matter how many times I see the whales splash, slap and breach, and how many times I hear their haunting melodies underwater, I'm still as excited as the first time around.

Come out, volunteer, count whales. You'll always remember the experience!

Picture Perfect


These mild winter days we've been having are picture perfect, for the most part. However, the effects of our mild winter are starting to become apparent

Upcountry Maui is now considered on a drought watch...this is what usually happens on an El Nino year. While the mainland is being hammered by a brutal winter, I heard it was 16 degrees today in parts of Florida, we are dry and sunny, and quite warm. I'm still in shorts and a T-shirt with the door open at 7:30 pm. Once the trade winds start again, we'll get showers.

We had a soft rain a couple of days ago, and the butterfly pictures, by my friend, Anslem Pauls, are photos of a very industrious butterfly flitting in the yard from flower to flower drinking the fresh rain water. This lovely creature spent a good hour on one bush, covering every single blossom . It was remarkable. I try to plant flowering plants for the bees and butterflies around the yard . Sometimes I think a bee hive would be a nice addition. I'd love to have honey from close by.
Isn't nature grand?

This week has been great, life's finally slowed down a bit after the holidays. I 've been squeezing in time at the beach in between check -ins and check -outs, breakfast and cleaning. The winter swells have really been spectacular this year. The ocean is full of energy, and everyone is looking for a chance to enjoy the surf, the water, sunshine and beach.

Besides the beautiful butterfly photos, I am posting a picture of a very curious dove who wandered over on the beach to check out the action. He was looking for snacks, and obviously was not concerned about getting too close. I enjoy waking up to the doves every morning.

The Franklin Grouse is another bird who wanders the dunes and forest at the edge of the beach. They have a particularly loud call that always reminds me of my days living in the little beach community of Puako on the Big Island. The forest at the edge of my little beach house was filled with the Franklins, mongoose, and the ever present feral cats.

Tomorrow I get to go out in the kayak for a spin in the bay to enjoy the whales, from a safe and legal distance, of course. The whales are back, and as always it is a pure pleasure to see them jumping, breaching and slapping. So far on Maui the good folks who keep their eyes open for the safety of the whales have had eight incidents of freeing entangled whales. The last one I saw in the paper looked like some mean rope lines had really given the whale a hard time, but the lines were cut, and they expected a full recovery.
Many folks are spotters trying to keep their eyes open for whales in need of help.

Hope you get a chance to leave the cold and snow for awhile and come to Maui to experience the beauty and joy of nature at it's finest (and most comfortable)!

Aloha for now,

Humpbacks in Hawaii


It's Humpback whale season in the islands.

I've been wanting to get out in my kayak and paddle around, but this has been a wild and windy winter season. Two years ago, I had a very humbling experience with the wind and have been cautious since then. I am a strong paddler from all my experience with outrigger canoe paddling. However, the "wind line" swallowed me up despite all my efforts. It was an experience I won't forget, and don't want to repeat.

The very early morning is the best time to go out, the wind has not picked up yet. Even in a big boat, it's not as easy to spot the whales when the ocean is filled with whitecaps from the wind.

To be out in a kayak and experience a whale cruising by, takes my breath away. Time stands still, and all I can think about is how blessed I am, and how magnificent the whales are. They breach and blow and slap and dive, and it is always a thrill to witness.

Today I have some whale photos to post that were taken by a recent guest, Alan Fritzberg. He shared them at breakfast with everyone, and said I could post them. His shots are great, and I was excited to see them.

The Humpback whale season in Hawaii is Nov-May. They travel down from Alaska to give birth and mate. The whales do not eat while in Hawaii. They fill up on krill, 1 to 1and 1/2 tons a day(!!!) to stock up for the trip. Their round trip jaunt is a mere 4,000 miles a season.

An adult whale is 40-50 ft long,and weighs 25-40 tons. Each female bears a calf every 2-3 years. Their gestation period is 12 months long. The calf at birth is 10-15 feet long. The calf nurses often.

The male "Kohola" Hawaiian word for whale, is the singer. They sing long, complex songs, sometimes lasting up to 30 minutes long. It may be part of mating behavior, also used to navigate and establish hierarchy.It is an amazing experience to hear their vibrates right through your body and speaks to your soul. I like to go under water to listen to them singing.

Whale season is not over yet, if you have never experienced an encounter with these gentle giants, treat yourself and book a whale watch, or look for them from shore... you will be glad you did!

Our wonderful Maui Ocean Center has a great interactive whale display. It is a complete aquarium with a fish tunnel where I love to watch the graceful manta rays.

oooooo eeeeeeee...shrrreeeee..ooooooo uuuuuuu.. rrrrrreeee... ( whale song! have to hear it for yourself!)

A hui ho, until later....