Whale encounters

I am a novice OC-1 paddler and just did my first Maliko to Kahului (Maui) harbor run last Saturday. I noticed several whales surface close by and I wonder if they sense or see my canoe. Obviously I would not want to have a collision with such a large mammal. Does anyone know if this has been a problem for canoe paddlers and how to avoid close encounters with a whale ?

Submitted by kawika on Thu, 02/24/2005 - 9:34am

Nope. They probably will not see you/sense you. Despite the vastness of the ocean, whales are known to collide with sailboats offshore on occasion. This has led to the documented sinking of a handful of boats and some downtime spent in liferafts drifting along hoping for rescue.

It's a good reason to take the basic precautions, like:

Make sure someone knows you're out and when to expect you back
Go with a buddy
Carry flares or other signaling devices

And if you see whales, get away from 'em.

#1 Thu, 02/24/2005 - 11:16am

I beg to differ. They are smart and will probably notice you if you are within paddling distance of land. Check out the attached video (different kind of whale than you see in Hawaiian waters)
I had to watch this a few times to get the whole scenario - The glassy water in the foreground is probably where the whale came up first to check out the paddlers. This breach looks like a direct hit, which would probably break an OC-1 in half...
If I see one while paddling - I'll go the other way.

#2 Thu, 02/24/2005 - 4:14pm

Hey, yeah, sometimes attachments are tricky to get to actually attach. By chance was this the video you had? http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/kayak.asp :D

I have heard of several paddlers who were actually 'dry docked' by humpback whales... but I guess its a pretty rare occasion.

#3 Thu, 02/24/2005 - 4:44pm

Oh yeah, I remembered this article by Jan TenBruggencate that I had linked to a while back. http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Jan/11/ln/ln04a.html

#4 Thu, 02/24/2005 - 4:48pm

Yeah I tried about 3 times to attach it. :oops:
And yes, that's the video.
I'm going to try another attachment. 8)
Ok I see now, my version of the clip is a 1.95 MB mpeg, which is not an allowed extension. :shock:

#5 Fri, 03/04/2005 - 1:42pm

Up here in Maine Ive had a Humpback Whale surface with a loud exhalation right next to me. They can make you feel pretty small and insignificant. I believe they have a curiousity for canoes , kayaks,-- etc.
The day I was out paddling I had on a pair of sneakers which were making a skweaking sound as I used the rudder pedals, I
m sure whales can hear the sound of a paddle going through the water , I would doubt it if whales are blind and dumb to canoes on the surface.

#6 Tue, 03/08/2005 - 8:11am

The Maliko run always has whales December - April. Generally, they know right where you are. They don't make a big effort to avoid you though, especially if it's a competition pod. The best idea is to give them a wide berth. State law (Hawaii) requires you to stay 100 yards away, plus it's just a good idea. Face it, they're 40 tons of wild animal; you aren't going to win (trust me). You don't want any issues on a Maliko run as you just can't turn to shore and paddle in, or they'll be picking parts of you out of the reef if there's any kind of north swell.

#7 Tue, 03/08/2005 - 3:57pm

I was going from poipu to kalapaki one day when there was Kona winds, there were three of us and i was in last, and the guy in second, who usually has a super slow stroke, all of a sudden started to sprint towards shore like i've never never seen him sprint before. He was outside of me so when he started to head in he crossed my path, and as i got closer i saw the back of a baby humpack only feet off of the back of his canoe, which means its head must have been under his canoe. It was the funniest thing i've ever seen in the water, the whale was barely swimming to keep up and my friend was sprinting as hard as he could to stay ahead of it. The whale was only curious, but it deffinetely wasn't a harmless situation, it could've tapped his canoe and easily cracked it.. lucky thing it went away after a little while--- was hilarious though

#8 Tue, 03/08/2005 - 5:01pm

once doing a run from kalapaki to poipu right after the first point a hammerhead shark swam between my ama and my boat and stayed there for about 20 seconds just following me while i sprinted for my life. though i shouldn't have been scared it was only like 3 feet long.

#9 Wed, 03/09/2005 - 12:10am

I do recall a while back Mike Judd having an encounter with a humpback whale during a race. The whale surfaced right under him and lifted him and his boat out of the water. He put his feet down onto the whales back to prevent breaking his boat. His rutter was stuck in the whale and snapped as the whale went back down. He still finished the race and I think he placed 2nd or 3rd. I didnt witness the event cause I was in the back of the pack, but this is the story I was told.

#10 Wed, 03/09/2005 - 9:42pm

Yah, I heard Mike tell that story. I beieve it was a baby humpback. I'm not sure he finished near the front though, as he was rudderless after the incident. The funny part of the story was listening to him describe the little dance he did (out of fear) on the baby whale's back while holding his canoe. The scary part was, after the baby humpback went back down, he noticed mama's 40 foot shawdow nearby. Mike said he started mumbling "I love bay whales, I love baby whales". Funny story.

#11 Sun, 03/13/2005 - 5:51am

I was actually in that race when Mike had his run in. It was funny because I was in the short course and remember passing him and wondering what the hell was going on. He was just laughing to himself as everyone went by...

#12 Sun, 03/13/2005 - 12:11pm

Good attachment to snopes. That killer whale jumping on the kayaker is a hoax. FAKE. Pretty convincing though.

#13 Wed, 03/16/2005 - 12:24pm

I forgot to mention. One time I was in a 6-man outside of magic island and a whale came up under our boat. Scared the poop outta me. Had to check the shorts on that one.

#14 Wed, 03/16/2005 - 12:25pm

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