Featured Image Credit: J.T. Gray
By Kira Krall
Two thirds of the Northern Pacific Humpback whale population roams their winter calving and breeding grounds in Hawaii from December to May. They are known for being quite the showboats despite their 45 tons of weight, frequently breaching and throwing their fins out of the water.
Typically, up-close humpback whale encounters happen on a boat a half mile or so offshore. J.T. Gray got the experience of a lifetime when a humpback whale and her calf were spotted swimming near a popular surfing spot mere yards from an Oahu beach. He captured a photo of the whale’s afternoon playtime and the results are pretty fantastic:
Caption: The photo shows body surfer Guilherme Tamega catching one wave, while his blubbered surfing buddies catch the next one. Oahu’s north shore typically doesn’t have nearshore visitors quite like this.
A few days later, a video of the same whales surfaced. Eric Sterman was cruising his drones around Oahu when he spotted the mother and her calf. The pair were later joined by two other humpbacks. Watch their playful journey below and look out for spout rainbows!
These ocean giants capable of reaching 42 feet in length are some of the ocean’s most acrobatic creatures. The sound of their tail slaps and massive bodies smacking against the surface of the water can travel for miles. This form of communication is a way for females to make long-distance calls since they can’t produce the booming song that male humpbacks are famous for.
Biology aside, we like to think that these whales are just having some fun.