What an exciting whale season we’ve had this year on Kauai! The weather has been outstanding and whale sightings have been extremely frequent. February is peak season for watching Humpback whales here on Kauai. Most of the calving has already taken place, so you are sure to see plenty of juvenile whales just learning how to play. And there is a lot of playing going on! How do you know these whales are playing? You don’t really, but you can look for a half a dozen different whale behaviors and use your imagination to decide if they are playing or not.
Here are some common Humpback whale behaviors:
The most dramatic of course, is the full breach. Witnessing a 40-ton animal launch out of the sea and land with an explosive splash can leave you breathless! There are a number of other behaviors to look for when watching whales. These include the pec slap, spy hop, peduncle or tail slap, and the spout.
The pec slap occurs when the whale lies on its side and uses its extremely elongated pectoral fins to slap the surface of the water. Sound like playing? You decide.
Tail and peduncle slaps are pretty self-explanatory. This behavior can last for several minutes at a time and is quite entertaining. Then it’s hide-and-seek time when the whale takes a long dive before resurfacing.
The spy hop is almost comical. This happens when a whale emerges vertically out of the water to just above the eye, then pivots about to take a peak at what’s happening above the surface. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, any of these behaviors can be simply mesmerizing.
Humpback whales are also known as kohola in Hawaii. These whales migrate nearly 3000 miles each year from the food-rich waters of Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands. It is here in the warm tropical waters where they will mate and birth their young. They will hang around and delight us for about 6-8 weeks before returning to their summer home to feed.
Whales can be viewed from just about anywhere along the coast and it is quite enjoyable to just pick a beach and gaze out at sea. Common viewing locations include Poipu Beach Park, Spouting Horn, and the Coastal Path on the east side of Kauai. It can be fun to take a whale watching tour, but did you know that whales can also be seen from the air? However you choose to view them, just make sure to take some time to watch these magnificent animals while you are visiting Kauai.
Whales are just one type of amazing marine life that you are likely to encounter while visiting. If you enjoy viewing marine life, try snorkeling at one of Kauai’s snorkeling spots, or you might want to take a stroll along the south shore to watch the sea turtles. A secret you may not know, is that you are more likely to encounter a turtle at high tide. This is when they come in to feed. It is also common to spot one of the most endangered mammals in the world right here on the south shore of Kauai. Hawaiian Monk Seals will often haul themselves out onto the warm sunny sand to rest, or to give birth.
As a reminder, always watch marine life from a distance. This protects you, your family, and the marine life, and it is the law.
If marine life is your thing, Kauai is the place to be!