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The Whale Whisperer


Within days, the 36-guest Safari Explorer embarks for Hawaii for the 2nd season of Hawaiian Islands Un-Cruise Adventures. She’ll leave her Seattle home and make way through the passages of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca towards the open ocean. It’s roughly 2600 statute miles and 10-14 days to Kawaiihae harbor on Hawaii, the Big Island. Crew is hoping to make it in 11. She will carry 6 crew members for the trip, with both Captain Scott and Captain Jeff at the helm.

Jeff Kalbach is the new Safari Explorer Captain, and brings a unique background to the position. He’s called Maui home for 29 years, and he’s worked with the Hawaii Whale Research Foundation doing humpback research for 16 years.

When I asked him if he had a favorite memory from his whale work, he said “being in the water with a mom & calf and watching the calf nurse from the mom.” He estimated that the calf was about 16-feet-long and about three thousand pounds, and the mom was about 40 feet long and 70 thousand pounds. He’s only able to be in the water with the whales and close enough to witness and document these types of experiences under NMFS permit (National Marine Fisheries Service). Normal, everyday folks are not allowed to be in the water with the humpbacks at that close range.

Whale Whisperer

Captain Kalbach, aptly nicknamed "Whale Whisperer"

On his off time, Captain Kalbach will be on a research boat in Hawaiian waters. His goal is to learn as much about humpback mating behaviors as possible. He spends the day out in the water observing and documenting competitive groups – single females with males in pursuit. Kalbach was also in the award-winning BBC Documentary “Ocean Giants” which aired on PBS.

Humpbacks and Hawaii
Did you know that two-thirds of the North Pacific population of humpback whales migrates to Hawaii each winter for breeding, calving, and nursing? Some of the same humpbacks we see in Southeast Alaska each summer we also see while we cruise the Hawaiian Islands.

We still have availability this winter, and until November 30, NEW reservations receive $500 travel credit when booking a Nov 2012-April 2013 Hawaiian Seascapes Un-Cruise Adventure. Come aboard the Safari Explorer to indulge in the good life while learning about humpback whales, coral reefs, Hawaiian culture and history, and much more!

Breaching Humpback Whale

Breaching humpback whale photographed last winter in Hawaii

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