Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Maui Whale Festivities

Aloha from the winter home of the Humpbacks!

Guests from Alaska recently told me that their home, Alaska, was considered the kitchen to the Humpback whales, and our home, Hawaii, was considered their bedroom. The gentle giants come to the Hawaiian islands to birth their young, feed them, and mate again before heading back up to Alaska to eat krill, plankton and small fish.

For thirty years, the Pacific Whale Foundation has sponsored the "Maui Whale Festival." This festival is considered the longest running and largest festival celebration on Maui. Whale Day this year was held on the 20th of Feb, with a record number of people attending. The event was held at Kalama Park in Kihei with environmental displays, live entertainment with some of the great local talent, and ono restaurant food booths.

The celebration continues into next weekend with the 2010 Great Whale Count. The count begins at 8 am on Feb 27th, and runs until noon. Many volunteers in Hawaii participate in this event, "all hands on deck" to count the whales. Please contact the Pacific Whale Foundation to find out how you can participate. Great Whale Count 2009 logged in with 1,010 sightings. There are an estimated 10,000-15,000 Humpback whales world wide.

I am posting a couple of shots of the Whale Festival, some keiki (kid) fun, (what's a party without a blow up castle with a whale on top?). My friend, Mike Eilers, took these shots of the whales while diving in Tahiti. The calf and mother (below) is especially endearing. It is magical to watch the mother teaching her "baby" all the humpback antics. The mother and calf have a long lasting bond, with a calf nursing up to 100 lbs of mother's milk daily. This will fortify them for their long trip back to Alaska.

No matter how many times I see the whales splash, slap and breach, and how many times I hear their haunting melodies underwater, I'm still as excited as the first time around.

Come out, volunteer, count whales. You'll always remember the experience!