Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Humpback Whale in Pinstripes Breaching

It's already March and seemed like the whale season was ending soon. Conditions have not been great but I needed to go out, so I took out Lynn as my boat buddy today for a day of whale watching. Well... I took her on a wrong day. She was prone to get seasick easily. Uh-oh.

It was sunny but windy and rough in addition to large swells. I knew it could be a quick whale watching as the condition like these would make photography very difficult, but I also knew from my experience whales liked to breach into wind and swells.

By the time we got to the whale-watching ground, the condition was already treacherous for us to go any further. Wind was gusting and white caps were everywhere. We were climbing up and sliding down the huge swells. Then, luckily we spotted a spectacular breach nearby in a reachable distance.

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, breaching, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

The whale was gone crazy and kept breaching... maybe twenty times or more in a row, in between, she did some impressive peduncle throws. The situation was very difficult for us to follow the actions at the whale's speed as she was moving and breaching into the wind. Besides, our cameras were getting covered with saltwater sprays every time we bumped into large swells and waves.

Despite the condition, I was having great time nailing some spectacular breaches. Then, I started to notice the whale's special features. This whale had very interesting coloration that I've never seen before. She was relatively small, perhaps a young adult, but her body was predominantly gray colored which was typical for a new born baby but very unusual for an adult humpbacks of Hawaii.

In addition, she had very unique but clear black and white throat pleats that stood out every time she breached. The precise pattern was like an elaborately drawn pinstripe design. Beautiful!

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, displaying aggressive caudal peduncle throw behavior, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

As I was having the best time of my life, Lynn was in the hell of her life. She's got seasick and looked pretty bad. She was in a terrible shape, and started throwing up over the gunwale. While the whale kept breaching, we left the scene having enough pictures for the day... well, at least I did, sorry Lynn.

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