September and October are the peak months when humpback whales (tafolā) visit our balmy waters. It's almost impossible not to get excited when one is spotted. Most of us feel inexplicably privileged for a glimpse into their mysterious world, and there's an uncontrollable urge to shout 'thar she blows'. Part of our fascination with whales is their huge size, of course. Adult humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae) grow up to 50 feet long and weigh about 45 tons (which equals the combined weight of about 250 sumo wrestlers). We rarely get a chance to see the whole whale, except when they make a spectacular leap out of the water. We usually see only their air spout or their humped back as they prepare to dive.
Because humpbacks use our waters to give birth to their young, it is important to protect them when they are here. Enjoy their presence, but don't pester them. Avoid the temptation to boat right up to them or follow them at close quarters. Boaters, divers and swimmers should stay at least 100 yards away, and watch from there.
Last updated: August 15, 2013