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Newborn Humpback Whale Birthing

Napali Coast Tours

It’s humpback whale season in Hawaii and it’s like the nature channel out on the Napali Coast. Last week, one of our Napali Coast Tours was extra-blessed to witness a humpback whale birth!

It was the afternoon of Wednesday, February 2nd and the tour was on Leila, our sailing catamaran.

Holo Holo crew member Cinzia Bruno reported that at one point during the tour, five humpback whales completely breached out of the water, one right after another, off to the starboard side (or the out-to-sea side) of the boat. Five full breaches—you don’t see that every day folks! Cinzia noted that this was likely an expression of a humpback mating ritual known as a “heat run” in which several male humpbacks chase a single female humpback while vying for her attention, leaping out of the water, and shoving each other out of the way.

Cinzia said that just minutes after the amazing breaching spectacle, everyone’s attention was diverted to some commotion happening on the port side of the boat, or the “inland” side. Cinzia said there was a whale behaving rather oddly, rolling on the surface and blowing lots of spray, and then suddenly– a little baby whale popped up out of the water!

Cinzia said the calve looked about the size of a bottlenose dolphin—so small! The mom picked the baby up on her nose and held it at the surface while the calve took its first breaths of life. You don’t see that every day folks!

Cinzia said that after several minutes, the mom started doing some pectoral slaps and the baby began lifting its own little pectoral fin! She described the whole scene as “Really cute!”

Humpback Whale Season

Captain David Aymar confirmed the cuteness of the situation and also the location of the birth– just off of Nu’alolo Kai, just west of Kalalau and Honopu Beaches. Dave said the humpback population is strong this season, and that he’s been on constant high alert in order to give whales space and respectfully witness their absolute magnificence.

The North Pacific humpback whale population migrates annually between Hawaii and Alaska, covering the 3,000 miles in as few as 28 days. They spend the summer months feeding in the productive fisheries of the north, and the winter months breeding and calving in the warm, friendly waters of Hawaii.

January and February are the peak months for humpback births in the Northern Hemisphere and shallow waters near the shore are optimal calving grounds so what happened that day makes total sense. Congratulations to Cinzia, David, and to all of our guests aboard Leila that afternoon, on being in the right place at the right time, and bearing witness to the humpback whale miracle of life!

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