Friday, 26 February 2010
Ed arrives at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
We also learned that the humpback whales are not found on the sanctuary all year round. Infact most of the humpback whales migrate thousands of miles to the Hawaiian Sanctuary from their rich feeding grounds around Alaska. There is lots of food for them in the summer, krill a type of shrimp that lives in vast shoals like fish. They catch this krill by filtering it from mouthfuls of water using baleen - this is what humpback whales have instead of teeth. We eevn got to touch a piece of real humpback whale baleen.
I asked Henry if we had a good chance of spotting a whale. Henry told us that up to 12,000 whales come here annually between November and May. The breeding grounds here are also especially important since humpbacks are currently on the Endangered Species list though their numbers are recovering.
I was amazed to find out that the whales don’t eat while they’re here in Hawaii, which can be several months. My stomach started to rumble just at the thought of it. The adult humpback are beautiful blue/black colour with white tummies and flippers. But guess what, a baby humpback whale is completely white when its born.
Henry even showed us his very own picture in a book on Hawai‘i’s humpbacks of when he was a calf—Henry himself was born here in Hawai‘i!
After a short meeting with two other very important representative members of Hawai‘i’s native wildlife—Harry Honu (a sea turtle) and Malia Monk Seal—in which we talked story and Sam and I impressed them with tales of our travels so far, we were all ready to call it a day! After all, the next day was the sanctuary’s most important volunteer project, the Sanctuary Ocean Count, in which volunteers from all around Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Hawai‘i count whales and record their behaviors from shore. This information is then compiled with data from the other counts over the past 15 years and can give us important information about the numbers of whales that visit each year and how they are using Hawai‘i’s coastal waters. Me and Sam are here to volunteer as well, so we had better have an early night.
See you all tomorrow for the whale count, Ed and Sam.