Whalewatching 2016: Part 8

17 Mar
Breach and blow 300mm

A young Humpback calf performs a clumsy breach as its mother lies at the surface, marking her spot with a lazy plume of exhaled steam. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

30 January Cruise

Today the haze from the vog (volcanic smog) was so strong it absorbed and scattered sunlight and sucked all the color out of my images, casting a faintly bluish gray pall on the water. Oddly enough, although the vog is a color killer, it allows me to tweak the exposure of my shots through the lens more than usual, producing some nice sharp, high-contrast shots.

Fortunately, the wind was very light and the sea was glass-smooth, so it was very easy to spot whales from a long way off. The two following shots (and the image above) were taken at the extreme end of the range of my 300mm telephoto lens, more than a half-mile away.

Peduncle throw - 1

A young adult Humpback performs an energetic peduncle throw just outside the Ma’alaea Harbor breakwater. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

Peduncle throw-2

This young Humpback concludes a peduncle throw by kicking up a huge splash. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

There was a lot of surface activity close to shore. About a third of these shots were taken either while the Ocean Voyager was still tied up at its birth or just a short distance outside the harbor’s breakwater.

 

Pec wave with Alii Nui in the background

A whale performs a “pec wave” seemingly for the benefit of the appreciative passengers onboard the Alii Nui whale-watching boat. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

Flukes waves off McGregor Point.

A young adult Humpback performs a long series of flukes waves off McGregor Point. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

The color loss caused by the heavy pall of vog is very evident in the following shot. I had to do a LOT of fiddling both through the lens and in Photoshop to pull these two whales out of the bluish-gray murkiness.

 

Female and primary escort

A large female Humpback does a graceful flukes-up dive as her male “primary escort” keeps pace with her in hopes of mating with her. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

The young adult whale in these next few shots was attracting a lot of attention to itself by performing repetitive and quite energetic fluke slaps and peduncle throws over a period of almost a half an hour.

 

flukes slap

When I closely examined this photo during processing and cropping, I noticed several relatively large circular wounds (red spots) on the dorsal aspect of the whale’s flukes. These may have been caused by parasites or remoras. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

In this photos I found more of the circular red-colored wounds on the tail stock of the young adult whale. This is the first time I’ve seen this many open wounds on a single whale.

In this photo I found more of the circular red-colored wounds on the tail stock of the young adult whale. This is the first time I’ve seen this many open wounds on a single whale. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

Despite the open wounds on its tail stock and flukes, this whale’s energetic fluke-slapping behavior went on unabated for more than 10 minutes.

Despite the open wounds on its tail stock and flukes, this whale’s energetic fluke-slapping behavior went on unabated for more than 10 minutes. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

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