Thursday, December 24, 2009

Inquisitive Wyland's Humpback Whale

On Christmas Day Eve, I had an opportunity to take Wyland out for a whale watching trip at the end of the year. Wyland is perhaps the most successful marine life artist of our generation. His whaling wall paintings represent his dynamic art and are very impressive. We've been connected via the love of the ocean as well as the Ocean Artists Society (Wyland is one of the founder and I am a selected member). Anyway he seems to bring me a good luck everytime we go out together. Last time we found a huge floating net and caught four mahi mahi and bunch of rainbow runners. That doesn't happen often around here. Floating objects are scarce, and finding one is a very rare event.

The whale watching season for Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, was still early and activity level was fairly low on this day, although the ocean and the weather conditions were near perfect.

As we were drifting to observe some "lazy"whale activities in the distance hoping for a breach, we noticed enormous shades of black & white nearby surface of the water over gunwale. It was a humpback whale sitting right under our boat! The fish finder sonar displayed a huge red patch located at about 60 feet directly below the boat. Wow! How this happened? I don't know. Wyland's good karma? Maybe.

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

The inquisitive whale stayed under there another 10 minutes or so checking out the bottom of my boat thoroughly. The whale seemed to be a young, small whale - somewhat skinny looking, but healthy and full of energy. She had a pair of extra long white pectoral fins to complement her slender blackish body. A beautiful whale. As she fulfilled her curiosity, she gracefully moved away and disappeared into the deep blue ocean.

After that, everything got quiet again, and stayed that way until we decided to leave for the day. As we moved toward the harbor, Wyland spotted a breaching whale in the distance. It was quite far from where we were but the whale kept breaching again and again, so we couldn't resist to go see it!

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, head-lunging breach, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Most of the time like this situation, the breaching session would be over by the time I arrive at the scene. However, this time, we somehow made it there in time before she quit breaching. Luckily we were able to witness and photograph a few spectacular head-lunging breach sequences.

It was almost late afternoon. The swell was increasingly getting big, and made it difficult to shoot the breaching whale. But, those huge swell made these breaching pictures more spectacular and dramatic because we were able to shoot up from the bottom of the big swell as the whale was breaching out from the top of the swell. The resulting breaching pictures were impressively dynamic, and looked like they were shot from the water level or even below the water level! Technically I WAS below the water level, though!


  1. One of the largest creatures on the planet exploding out of the water is truly one of the most remarkable sights in the animal kingdom.

  2. I totally agree. Never get tired of seeing one. Every breach is different and I always miss the most spectacular one ;-( But that's ok. There is always next time... and next "epic" breach to see!

  3. Amazing! I can not describe in words that how beautiful it is! Nice creature.

  4. Thanks for your kind comment on my photography. It's a very humbling experience to meet such a giant in the middle of the ocean.

  5. Thanks for taking time to share this article here about the Whale Watching. Your article is very informative and I am impressed by the details that you have shared in this post. Keep sharing this type of articles here. Whale Watching Hermanus