Monday, March 3, 2008
These holidaymakers got more than they bargained for as they paddled through the calm waters of the Pacific. A couple were stunned when a humpback whale leapt out of the water near their kayak in Hawaii and came crashing down behind them. Although they were lucky to witness such a spectacular scene, they were also fortunate not to be swamped by the huge splash the whale made as it slapped back down into the water, sending a wall of spray towards them. Clearly alarmed, the holidaymakers paddle desperately towards the shore. In another dramatic encounter, an astonished couple also saw the humpback soar up out of the water before crashing down just yards away. The kayakers had headed off the coast of Maui, where the mammals gather to give birth and nurse their calves in the warm, shallow waters of the archipelago. It is estimated that two thirds of the entire North Pacific population of humpback whales, which normally weigh up to 35 tons, migrate to Hawaii each winter.Their numbers dropped drastically with the onset of mechanised whaling, and it is only recently that the population has begun to edge back up to an estimated figure of 35,000.