Now we’re closing to the climax of this day’s adventure. It started something like this: “Whales!” I yell to Wayne. “Mom! Baby! Thousand feet away, 1 o’clock!” “Yeah, they’re coming right to us,” Wayne replies. I watch them, but hmmmmm, we’re now heading north, to the east of Ni’ihau about a mile away; and to the west is a lonely fisherman setting his traps, maybe a thousand feet away. It’s always a concern—possible whale entanglement.
That was a factor in my decision to just cut the engines right there, and besides the whales are heading right towards us. They’re still far away, out of photo range. We sit there lining them up like bowling pins, thinking this will be a relatively close swim-by. We set up the cameras and wait. And then the magic began. The whales come past around the boat’s port side as we drift with bow pointed south. Now they turn, heading right for our bow at the12:00 position. OK, call it 11:00. Mom and baby slowly coming closer and closer; baby about 18 feet long, looking very thick and healthy. Diet of Mom’s milk Maybe 3-4 months old. Mom huge, close to 50 feet plus. This whale has been on our planet awhile—no stranger to a boat and not the least bit concerned of us.
Once the whales get to the red zone, 30 feet away, I get this whale Super Bowl, fourth quarter, 2-minute-warning, underdog feeling. Our team may be behind, but we’re beaming with confidence! We’re going to win and everything is possible! Powerful bolts of adrenalin take over. The boat is the goal line, and the closer the whales, the greater the confidence. We’re going to score! It’s that whale connection feeling, that edgy, suspenseful, whale addiction thing—for which there is no cure.
The whale season was was almost up, and the whales were just about gone on Kauai’s Napali Coast. I had been going through “whale withdrawal” the last week as the whales dried up. Picture me persistently scouting the horizon for blows that just do not exist. Only another whale encounter will satisfy this need for connection.