I went down to Launiupoko today (2-27-09) because the trades were too strong and have been for days, on the upper west coast. There was some onshore breeze there but not the white fur like up around the corner. I didn't se much whale activity until a whale started some impressive tail slapping about a mile up the coast. I watched for probably 5 minutes and then it stopped. I later saw some blow and it was closer down the coast. I decided to paddle out on my short wave ski with the 80 mm lens and housing around my neck. It looked that if the whales would continue on their path that they would pass by not far off shore at all and I figured if I padled out a few hundred yards from shore, I might be in a reasonable range for a show if they decided to put one on.
I had been out for a few minutes when I saw the calf surface a couple hundred yards or less, just up the coast from where I was. The mother surfaced shortly thereafter and they both stayed on the surface and pretty much in place. I could see the calf swimming about and an occasional tail or pec fin would break the surface.
They seemed to be getting closer and then they went below the surface. Moments later, the mom came up in a spy hop that bordered on a breach almost. I wasn't ready for this surprise but I did catch her on the way back in:
With the real possiblity of a repeat, I waited and in no time was rewarded with another spy hop and I got two shots.
The calf then surfaced and seemed headed inside of my position (closer to the beach) and at speed:
I had been hoping for another spy hop between me and the beach but the whales had elected to swim out and under me. It was only about 20' deep where I was and I could see the reef below me. In a short period of time, I could see the calf directly below me and probably only 4' under me, if that. As I recall, it paused and rolled a bit looking up at me, probably. I saw the mother swim under both me and the calf and then the calf followed and surfaced about 20' past me. There was a big cat anchored with snorkelers a bit to the south of me and the mother and calf swam past it and then came back to the surface and hung around. I really had no expectations of any encounter here and I was stoked with the actions and course the whales had elected to take! If I had had my wide angle lens and housing with me, I could have gotten some great shots as they pased under me with the reef visible, below them.
Although this was a quick an brief swim by, it was fantastic to be witness to these great creatures and a bonus to get some images captured along with the memory of the experience.