hump­backs’ Hawai‘i is the sea­sonal home.

“The first hump­backs of this sea­son were spot­ted off the shores of the Big Is­land on Au­gust 30, 2012.”

Waikiki Magazine - - IPLAY - By Waikiki Team

The

majesty and grace of the hump­back whale as it trav­els through Hawai­ian wa­ters is a sight to be­hold. For many, the ar­rival of the hump­back whale (they travel to the shel­ter­ing wa­ters off Hawai‘i shores from Alaska each Novem­ber to mate and give birth to their young) mark a change in Hawai‘i sea­sons much like the leaves chang­ing col­ors sig­nals au­tumn in other lo­cales. The first hump­backs of this sea­son were spot­ted off the shores of the Big Is­land on Au­gust 30, 2012.

The ko­hola, or hump­back whale, holds a place of majesty in Hawai­ian le­gend as well. The crea­ture is men­tioned in the Hawai­ian cre­ation chant (called the Ku­mulipo). There are pet­ro­glyphs that de­pict the ko­hola, as well as place names that honor them. They were thought to be sa­cred, with some fam­i­lies not­ing them as their ‘ au­makua, or guardian. Hawai­ian ali‘i (roy­alty) would adorn them­selves with the pre­cious ivory of whale teeth.

While revered by the an­cient Hawai­ians, it was only a cen­tury ago that the hump­back whales were cov­eted for an­other rea­son: whale oil. Hawai‘i’s whal­ing in­dus­try made its home on Maui, and—while al­most uni­ver­sally con­demned as a prac­tice now—it contributed to the econ­omy of the is­land.

Most re­cently, the fo­cus has been on pre­serv­ing and learn­ing about the hump­back whale. Congress es­tab­lished the Hawai­ian Is­lands Hump­back Whale Na­tional Marine Sanc­tu­ary in 1992, with the pur­pose of pro­tect­ing th­ese marine mam­mals’ nat­u­ral habi­tat. The ef­forts seem to be mak­ing a dif­fer­ence: It’s es­ti­mated that as many as 10,000 hump­backs make their way through the sanc­tu­ary each year.

You can catch th­ese crea­tures of the deep in ac­tion on a whale-watch­ing cruise—most of­fer round-trip trans­porta­tion to and from Waikiki ho­tels. Some things to look for: spy hops (when a whale’s head juts out of the water); blows (the whale is breath­ing through its blow­hole, re­sult­ing in a water spray); pec slaps (the whale slaps its fin on the sur­face

of the water); tail slaps and the ev­er­thrilling breach (the whale pro­pels ver­ti­cally out of the water).

A whale-watch tour may give great in­sight on th­ese be­hav­iors and more. The hump­back’s haunt­ing songs are fas­ci­nat­ing, and many tours give guests a chance to hear th­ese com­plex arias. Many tours also fea­ture on-board nat­u­ral­ists who can guide guests on what to look for and pro­vide in­ter­est­ing in­for­ma­tion on the whales and their habi­tat.

photo: hi­hWnms/noaa fish­eries per­mit #782-1438

photo: courtesy at­lantis ad­ven­tures

the Ko­hola, or hump­BacK Whale, holds a place of majesty in haWai­ian le­Gend. it’s es­ti­mated that as many as 10,000 hump­BacKs maKe their Way throuGh the sanc­tu­ary each year. At­lantis Ad­ven­tures, (800) 381-0237 Star of Honolulu, (808) 983-7827

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