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All Islands Health Talk First Signs and Sounds of Winter in Hawaii

First Signs and Sounds of Winter in Hawaii
"Loihi Sentinel" copyright (c) 2003 Collins Gallery

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Hawaii Health Guide - The first signs of winter approaching are here in Hawaii; North Shore BIg waves are back in session, and hot calm days and Kona wind patterns have made some surfing glassy conditions. The Kona conditions also brought piles of thick vog from the BIg Island all the way to Oahu this week.

Meanwhile, on Maui the first humpback whale of the winter migratory season was spotted off the coast of Maui yesterday.

The Pacific Whale Foundation reported several boats spotted a juvenile whale doing tail slaps about two miles off Kaanapali in early Thursday evening.

More then 60% or about 7,000 of the entire North Pacific Humpback whale population comes to Hawaii each year traveling about 6,000 miles to make the journey.

Humpback whales are called na kohola in Hawaiian and represent the God Kanaloa. They return to Hawaii's warm waters every winter to mate, give birth and take a break from eating after feeding in the colder Alaskan waters during the summer. By new year, baby whales and mothers and attendants are frequently seen in the shallow warmer waters in bays and channels. Baby humpbacks (calves) are generally 10 to 15 feet long and average 3000 pounds.

Humpback whales are an endangered species. In the past, the global humpback whale population size was about 750,000 to 2 million animals before being decimated by commercial whaling. The current entire world population is about 30,000-40,000.

Hawaii has a prominant place in the bloody history of commercial whaling when whales were hunted almost to extinction for oil. The Maui Humpback whale is still on the endangered species list but a complete ban on whaling in Hawaiian waters has resulted in an increase in local whale popluation since the 1960's.

The majority of the whales activity is seen each winter in Hawaii between January and February, but whales have been observed early as September and with a few staying as late as June.

Maui Humpback whales are famous for their unique underwater "songs" that are known to be variations on the previous year's theme.

The website of WIld Side Specialty Tours say the " Humpbacks have a range that covers eight octaves, from a bass so low that humans can’t hear it to a magnificent soprano. Their highly structured songs include multiple themes that are constantly repeated and even rhyme.

The songs last up to 30 minutes, and the whales embellish like jazz musicians, seeing who can improvise in some attractive way better than the other whale. Whales sing to one another over hundreds of miles and use their songs to navigate across oceans. Humpback whales travel thousands of miles as a group, singing to each other as they go. They can also communicate with each other over thousands of miles of ocean. Singing is part of their social system and community.

Aside from navigation and attracting mates, singing is also believed to establish a hierarchy among male humpbacks. Singing breaks out among migrating whales as they start to mix and continues not just in their breeding grounds, but to attract mates even during the feeding season.

Meditating to The Sounds of Hawaii's Winter

In additions to crashing waves, Hawaii is unique in that it has the sounds of both whales and underwater volcanos.

A unique CD " NA KOHOLA O LO'IHI " " " THE WHALES OF LO'IHI " " was released combining whale songs with the hissing of the new underwater island Lo'ihi forming over the "hot spot"Lo'ihi is the next Hawaiian island, located 50 miles off the coast of the south-east side of the Big Island, and 3000 feet below the Pacific's surface.

The sounds of the new lava being added to the island from underwater vents was recorded by engineers on the Lo'ihi monitoring project and are reported to be between 0.01hz to 64khz

"...Transport yourself to the bottom of the sea and experience the birth sounds of Lo'ihi, a submarine volcano in the process of island creation. Hear hauntingly beautiful Humpback whale songs, as they swim near this volcanic summit, hover, and slowly move off in the distance.

Wherever October's transistions may find you, above water or below, catching a wave or sipping vog tea, we send you greetings of seasons.


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