Aloha, I’m Donnie MacGowan. I live on the island of Hawaii, in the County of Hawaii, in the state of Hawaii. I love living in Hawaii; it’s full of wonderful, amazing, and fabulous things and experiences you can have nowhere else on earth. For instance today, I saw a baby humpback whale being born.
Winter and early spring in Hawaii are especially magical times—well, more magical even than usual for Hawaii. Starting about mid-November and lasting through April, humpback whales migrate in and visit our islands. From as far as way as Alaska and as near as California, the Humpies, as we call them, arrive to breed and cows that bred last year give birth this year.
An adult humpback weighs approximately one ton per foot, up to 90,000 pounds, and can grow over fifty feet in length. Females are slightly larger than the males. Calves range from ten to sixteen feet in length at birth and weigh an average of 3,000 pounds. Marine biologists believe that humpbacks live between forty to sixty years.
And every year they come to visit me in my home.
There are specific regulations on approaching humpback whales in Hawaiian waters. These regulations are meant to ensure that humpback whales are not disturbed or harassed by humans and their activities. It is unlawful to 1. Operate any aircraft within 1,000 feet of a humpback whale, 2. Approach by any means (i.e., by boat or by swimming) closer than one hundred yards of any humpback whale or closer than 300 yards of a humpback mother and calf, and 3. Disrupt the normal behavior or activity of a humpback whale. This is considered a form of harassment.
Violators may be prosecuted by the federal government and may be subject to penalties of up to $25,000 for each violation or penalty. Certainly violators earn the immediate enmity, censure, and disdain of those of us who witness their depredations; be sure if you violate the regulations that each and every witness will report you. In Hawaii, we love our whales and seek to protect them assiduously.
On the West Hawaii coastline, there is a place where, and no, I’m not going to tell you where, humpies are known to go to give birth—it’s a deep, protected cove quite near the highway. My hiking buddy and I were returning from a trip into the Kohala Mountains when we noticed several cars pulled off the road at a spot overlooking this cove. And there they were—mother and baby, still attached by umbilical cord.
I love being in the ocean. It is my place of peace, calm, and meditation. But just try to imagine the joy that this baby whale felt being born into that vast, magical, and beautiful realm.
Living in Hawaii is certainly wonderful, but it can also be frustrating and hard. The politics are ludicrous, the infrastructure crumbled, we are the most remote island archipelago in the world, and when a big storm blows in, there is nowhere to go to avoid it. Daily the magic of Hawaii disappears ever more rapidly under the bulldozer blade of developers and such waste and destruction of our land and lifestyle not only applauded but encouraged by local politicians. But certain things, certain places, certain times make all the nonsense, the geographic and cultural isolation, and the bone-headed politicians worthwhile … being able to watch the birth of a baby humpback whale is just one of the many, many wonders and marvels that keeps me subscribing to the predominant local mantra: “Lucky we live Hawaii, brah.”
Aloha, baby humpy—travel safely and come back to us next year.
For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and exploring the Big Island in particular, go to Tourguidehawaii.com  or Tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com . A video of the birth described in this article is available here .