I've recently returned
from a marvelous trip to Hawaii. The weather was
great and a welcome respite from the snow storm that I left in Michigan
in mid December, but what really made the trip for me was the wealth of
experiences that I had and the incredible people that I was with. In a
year where I did and saw many amazing and beautiful things this trip
was one of the highlights. I just keep learning more about the world
around me, and that thrills me!
One morning we left on a boat just as the sun was rising. The early
morning light sparkled on the calm water and back lit the steep,
verdant hills that bent down to the Pacific Ocean's edge. The shadows
behind the hills were a backdrop for the mist rising off the water. The
mist was coming from some of the largest animals on earth, Humpback
The whales had also journeyed a long way from a cold environment to
reach Hawaii. Swimming at a modest speed of 3-9 miles per hour the
whales had covered over 1000 miles each month to arrive all the way
from the coast of Alaska. Each winter Humpback Whales migrate to the
coast of Hawaii and perform a wonderful ritual. The males, called
bulls, sing a long, detailed song that lasts 10 to 12 minutes. When the
song is over they pick up where they started and sing the same song all
Bulls from the same region seem to sing variations of the same song,
although every year the song evolves. Perhaps they are telling a story
that is modified over time, or maybe they are even telling of the
beauty they have seen. Maybe someday we will cross the barrier that
lets us understand the songs, but for now about all we know is that the
bulls sing to court the cows (females). It seemed appropriate to me
that these animals that seemed like gentle giants would woo each other
with melodies and song.
During the winter these whales breed off the coast of Hawaii, and then
return to Alaska. Throughout the world other humpbacks leave similar
cold climates, breed in tropical locations, and then migrate back.
After a gestation period of a year the whales return to warm waters and
give birth... to 12 foot long, two and a half ton calves.
In the early morning light a pod of whales was traveling past us.
You can spot Humpback whales by the spouts that they make as they
exhale through their blow hole. These spouts are like little geysers in
the ocean. As the whales got closer you could hear the rush of the
water being exhaled. One whale came close enough that it's sighing
could be clearly heard. Afterward I thought about that sound and I
replayed it over and over in my mind. As I got into the rhythm of the
days and the beauty around the islands I began to think of it as more
than just a sigh; I came to think it was a sigh of contentment.
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