Monday, December 17, 2007

Cruise: Maui: Whale Watching

Took Prince Kuhio Maui-Molokai whale watching tour. The tour shuttles arrived at the dock at the precise moment scheduled, and the rest of the trip was equally efficient. The crew appeared genuinely interested in both whales and our safety; the onboard concession was dirt cheap and so good Kasia ate two hotdog combos, an unheard of intake at a single sitting, and that after a good sized breakfast.

The tour started with an orientation by the company’s naturalist, Katie, who was superb! I learned more about humpbacks in that 15 minutes than from any PBS special, and somehow seeing the whale’s tail spread out before you in person has a lot more impact than seeing something on TV.

There were also two volunteers from the Whale Sanctuary on board to assist the naturalist, and they did a great job of floating around the boat answering questions as they occurred to us, as Katie provided intermittent commentary over the speaker system. Both of the volunteers were drawn to Tigana’s fanaticism regarding shark conservation, and consequently spent a disproportionate amount of the trip talking to my girls. (Most of the others on the boat seemed less interested in availing themselves of this resource, and entirely focused on getting pictures of the whales.)

We did see several whales, though I wasn’t able to get pictures. I saw the first whale’s tail climb out of the water, splash down, and then –sorry if this sounds a bit mystical – could feel the whale turn and swim by the boat, while everyone else looked off in the wrong direction. I kept wanting to watch where I “felt’ the whale’s presence, but the captain steered off in the opposite direction, until the whale was out of range – but I could feel here out there. It was very strange. That was followed by a couple of other really good sightings of whale pairs. A very successful outing, in my view.

The trip was slightly nerve wracking for me, though, as I was in charge of Kasia for the first half of the trip, and she kept insistinig on wandering around the ship leaning agains the much too short -- in my father’s-eye-view – railing. When the whales actually showed up, they caught her interest, and then she cuddled up to one of the sanctuary volunteers and fell asleep on her lap.

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