Interrupted by a Breaching Humpback Whale

Mar 31, 2017

Dai Mar Tamarack, Expedition Leader, Safari Explorer

Let me set the stage.

The Safari Explorer was cruising through the waters between Maui and Lanai as the guests were all gathered in the lounge for my photography presentation.

I had just gone over the juggling act of working with aperture, shutter speed and ISO to get proper exposure when the first chance to test our new photography tools presented itself.

Safari Explorer Cruising

Hannah, another guide onboard quietly slipped into the room and sidled up next to me. I knew something big must be happening.

She quickly said, “Repetitive breacher.”

I knew the rest of the presentation would have to wait.

The guests all grabbed their cameras and headed to the bow. Instantly, everyone understood what the excitement was all about.

Whale Breaching in Hawaii

An adult humpback whale was repeating a behavior called a breach, over and over again. It was the perfect chance for our budding wildlife photographers to grab the shot of a lifetime.

They quickly realized that trying to photograph something that moves unseen underwater and then only gives you a couple of seconds of above water activity can be quite difficult.

Whale Breaching

However, a few of our guests were able to hone their newly learned skills to capture some amazing shots of the humpback whale breaching.

Catching a breach on film can be something you will cherish for a lifetime. It is not easy, as these guests found out. But the challenge makes the reward even bigger.

For those without cameras watching the whale breach over and over again, it may have been an even more memorable experience, seared into their brains for years to come.

Whale Breaching

It is one of the many wildlife encounters from this past week that will be conjured up in memories whenever the word Hawaii is spoken.

After about 20 breaches the whale concluded its show and we reconvened in the lounge for the final portion of the presentation which included the part where I talk about the best settings to use if you’re lucky enough to see a breaching whale.




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