Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Humpback whale tour with Molokai Fish and Dive

     How is it that a giant benign krill eating sea creatures are so phenomenally elating? I’ve been on a lot of boats, but this was my first specifically organized whale watching tour. It could be more addictive than gambling. I’m ready to hand over my credit card for a daily pass. I’d like to go on a tour with manic depressives just to see how happy a big old whale next to the boat would make them. I bet the Queen of England would hop up and down. Whales just do that. They make us feel really small and stupidly happy all at once. I actually made jazz hands and spoke in a high pitched voice to a total stranger. Then I looked at the captain of the boat, who sees whales all the time, and even he had a big kid happy face on. When a whale breached, people shrieked. Granted the jumping whales were a little further away, but the excitement extended to visual range. Even people with prior whale tour experience were on their feet leaning dangerously over the safety rail when the big dogs rolled under us, their shadowy whale shapes extending well beyond both sides of the boat.
     The captain of the Coral Queen knows whales. He edged up on frolicking whale pods, stopped a respectful distance away and let the whales come to us. One big female used the boat to play hide and seek from two big guys. She peaked at us, before flipping her tail and taking the boys elsewhere. Do they know what they’re doing? Maybe it’s fun to make the normally placid humans shriek and jump around like monkeys on crack. Another whale dove under the boat surfacing near the stern to blow a nostril of spray our way, a little whale prank that made the humans hold their noses and gasp for less fishy air. Imagine affecting people profoundly, just for exhaling.
     A mother, her brand new baby and a dutiful adult escort meandered over and played around not far away. We listened to their loud, constant song over the boat’s speakers. The deck hand noted that it would drive him bats. What he said was, “Dat eeee owowooww ooo drive me nuts.” He did a pretty credible whale impression. The squeaky little baby whales could be heard over the deeper voices of the adults, like whiney children everywhere. To underscore the point the human baby on board started hollering. Whale babies blew cute baby sized puffs of mist, but I didn’t take many pictures. It was just too good to waste the time squinting through a lens and that was a first for me.  
     The whale tour was operated by Molokai Fish and Dive. Tim and his wife Susan have operated the tours for the last ten years and well, I’ll just say it, you’d be stupid not to go. The humpback whale population visiting Hawaii during the fall and winter each year is increasing by leaps and breaches. Going out to see them will just keep getting better. I was genuinely glad to see they didn’t mind us being there looking at them. Who knows, maybe a rumbling diesel engine feels like those old motel Magic Fingers to a whale.          

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