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Whale Watching in Hawaii

Whale-oha!

Sharks and dolphins aren’t the only underwater encounters you can have in Hawaii

By Ginger Dingus

“We’ve got whales!”

I’m tucking into my bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy when breakfast is suddenly interrupted by a shout over the PA. It’s immediately followed by a loud splash.

From the bridge, Captain Winston Warr has spotted two humpback whales heaving their massive bodies high above the surface. Within seconds, all 28 guests aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ Safari Explorer abandon the dining room and rush to the yacht’s bow. Luckily, there’s no need to detour to our cabins for down jackets and wool hats. We’re sailing off the sandy shores of Maui in balmy Hawaii.

At first, all’s quiet. Then there’s a distinctive whoosh. Not only do I hear and see a whale blow, I’m close enough to catch a whiff of its fishy breath.

 

Explore Hawaii with Un-Cruise Adventures.

 

The morning wildlife show has begun. Amazingly, breaching whales are just the opening act.

“Look! There’s a shark towing a water bottle.” Karl Faivre, one of our two expedition leaders, is clearly excited by the sight of a small shark swimming in circles. The shark is hooked to a floating plastic bottle and unable to dive for food. Without food, it won’t survive. What to do?

Captain Winston slows the yacht. Faivre climbs into a skiff for a rescue attempt. For a few tense minutes, all eyes turn from the splashing whales to the troubled shark.

We cheer as Faivre unhooks the bottle and gently places the freed shark back in the blue Pacific. We later learn a shark may be the soul of a departed ancestor in Hawaiian culture. It protects family members while they are in or on the water. Being good to sharks is good karma.

The good vibes work. One of “our” whales leaps from the water so close to a neighboring fishing boat, the boat rocks violently. As we snap photos, the startled boaters gaze back at us in disbelief. From our perch on the bow, we can see the whale from head to tail as it swims under their boat and breaches again.

Another day while taking a skiff ride near Lana’i, naturalist Jill Quaintance drops a hydrophone in the water. Though we don’t see any whales, we hear them singing…

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