The North Pacific Humpback Whales that migrate between Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands are known as the Central North Pacific stock. From November to May they appear in the Hawaiian Islands to have their calves and to mate. The Au’au Channel with waters 300 feet deep, sheltered by Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokai, it is known for some of the finest whale watching in the world.
We never miss an opportunity to take a whale watching excursion, though at times there have been very few willing to appear for us. Occasionally we have been lucky enough to see them rear out of the water a bit but you have to be quick to get a photo. I have yet to get that perfect picture. My niece and I were very fortunate one year. On our return from a snorkeling tour to Molokini and Turtle Town, we ran into a mother training her calf. Much to our delight the tour operator stayed in the area for twenty minutes letting the group watch the show. Also, in 2018, the captain turned off the engines so we could listen to a Humpback Whale sing, an amazing sound.
If you’re lucky you’ll see the newborns which are 12 to 15 feet long and weigh 1 to 2 tons, jumping out of the water and slapping their fins on the surface imitating their mothers. When fully grown, humpbacks are 45 to 50 feet long, and weigh as much as 45 tons. The massive creatures live an average of 50 to 60 years.
By May, the pods begin the 3,000-mile swim north to Alaska, where they spend their summers.