Graceful and magnificent, humpback whales inspire awe in young and old alike. These marine mammals travel great distances to take advantage of the best breeding grounds and feeding spots. North Pacific humpbacks, for example, mate and give birth in Hawaii and then travel to Alaska each summer to feed.

When you go whale watching from Lahaina harbor in the winter months you can expect to see moms and their calves as well as the males competing for the new moms. The interactions here around Maui can be gentle, competative, and also quite acrobatic. These gentle giants are famous for their singing abilities — belting out seductive ballads to attract mates or to challenge other would-be suitors. But they also have other talents, one of which we do not see here in the warmer Hawaiian waters. Their unique hunting skill, called bubblenet feeding, involves a group of humpbacks working together to capture schools of herring. Each whale has a particular role in the process: One whale swims in a circle while blowing bubbles under a school of herring. When the bubbles rise, the school of herring can not escape and form into a tight ball in the center. Other whales vocalize — grunting or screaming — to scare the herring to the surface. The whales then rise with their mouths wide open to capture large amounts of fish.

[caption id="attachment_1726" align="alignnone" width="300"]maui whale watching eco rafting[/caption]

Humpback whales are in the islands from November through May. Join us for the experience of a lifetime aboard our high speed eco rafts.