Recently when I was in Hawaii I tried my hand at the sport of outrigger canoeing. An outrigger canoe is essentially a lengthy six person canoe that is stabilized by an outrigger on one or both sides. This makes them much less prone to tipping amongst the waves in the ocean.
This seemed like one of those things you have to do while you're in Hawaii so we gave it a go. Throughout the whole trip we had seen whales here and there breaching the water. Humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the waters around Hawaii during the winter months to give birth to their calves. So with this in mind we wondered if we would catch a glimpse of one of the giants during our morning excursion.
About 30 minutes into the trip we saw a water spout as a whale came up for air. It was about 100 yards away so we stopped to watch. In Hawaii its illegal to get a vessel within 100 yards of a whale. However there is nothing against them coming to you, and that's exactly what happened. About a minute later we saw another spout about 50 yards away, followed by a second smaller spout. From this distance we could also make out some fins circling the whales.
We watched the fins circling around and then things got quiet. It was a cool experience to see what we did, and we were plenty satisfied. As soon as we dipped our oars back in the water I nearly jumped out of the canoe as a water spout came up less than ten yards to our left. The calf repeated the motion and then the smaller fins reappeared. For a full sixty seconds we were being circled by two of the largest mammals in the world and a school of dolphins. As I looked under the water I could see the deep blue change to a light gray as the whales swam beneath us. It was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had before and we were able to snap just a few shots before the curious mammals took off again.