Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Are you going on a whale watch?

I recently got to go on a whale watch ~ and it was amazing!

Over the years I’ve been on several whale watches, all with the Pacific Whale Foundation. I have been hearing great things about Trilogy and when my neighbor asked if I wanted to go, I thought ~ let’s check out some other options. Sure enough, Trilogy’s Sunday afternoon whale watch came in at the same rate as PacWhale’s, so we tried something new. And it was great!

Trilogy has 50 foot sailing catamarans with 30-40 people. Contrast this to Pac Whale’s larger boats. My friend and I were among the last to board, so we got seats along the side of the boat. It was a bit annoying as people kept walking past us, but we had a great view of the action. Less people on the boat also meant less jostling for a good view.

On our whale watch almost all whales were ‘logging’, hanging out at the surface and not showing much action at all. However, despite their ‘nap schedule’, we saw over six mom/calf pairs. Amazing.

Do you know what to look for when whale watching? Check out my blog for so much more information. The best part of whale season is January-March, though you can schedule whale watches late November through mid-April. Personally I would not book for those early/late dates as it’s hit-or-miss.

The Great Whale Count

Yesterday my son and I participated in The Great Whale Count with the Pacific Whale Foundation. They conduct an annual whale count with three collection dates (January, February and March) to get an idea of how active Maui’s share of the whale migration is. I always wondered how they count and make sure the whales aren’t being double counted. I learned so much today.

  • The 12 whale counting stations around Maui are specifically located so their respective viewing areas do not overlap. We count only activity within 3 miles of our viewing locale. The way our research scientist explained it, that pretty much includes any whales you can see with your naked eye (with exception of blow).
  • We were divided into two groups, one tracking groups of whales, pods/individuals and the general direction they were moving. The other group tracked whale action (breaches, slaps, dives, blow etc). Within the groups we divided our area per ‘looker’ so we weren’t all watching the same activity. Unfortunately I got what ended up being a quiet area closest to shore at Sugar Beach. The other zones had more activity, so every now and then I’d sneak a peak.
  • A researcher gave us some training prior to starting and then kept track of what we were seeing. Additionally there were a number of veteran volunteers who have been doing this for years and knew what they were doing.
  • At our location at Maalaea Harbor there were 7 volunteers and one researcher. We were the from 8am-12 noon and had so many of our whale questions answered in this intimate small group setting.

What did we need to bring? We were told to bring a chair, sunblock, hat, snacks and water and if possible a set of binoculars. The binoculars are helpful when trying to determine number of whales and if it’s an adult whale or calf and even identifying the behavior if it’s farther out.

Curious about our results? They were reported in the MauiNow.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Next time I’ll try to sign up for February’s count though as it’s more in the middle of whale season with much more activity.