Why We Dive

A Rare Sighting

by Ev Schultz


Recent activities in the ocean reinforce why we dive…
every day is different!

April 24th was a day that intrigued the local aquatic community as a Sperm Whale made its presence known in the shallow coastal areas of South Maui.  They are common in the deeper regions between Maui and the Big Island of Hawai`i, and are widely distributed in deep waters worldwide, both offshore and inshore (especially where the depth increases rapidly).  This is why a Sperm Whale sighting on Maui is so rare.  The collective islands of Maui county create a shallower basin averaging some 300 feet, and deeper between Lana`i, Central Maui and Kaho`olawe.  This whale was very close to shore in approximately 50 feet of water and mainly swam along the surface or hung vertical with it’s fluke (tail) extending above the surface.

Older males tend to be solitary or live in smaller groups of up to 6 animals, but normally, pods contain 20-25 whales.  Sperm Whales typically dive to depths of 900 to 2,000 feet, although there is some evidence to support that some older males may dive to depths over 9,000 feet.  They can stay submerged for over 2 hours, but a typical dive time is 45 minutes.  A favorite food is squid found primarily in deeper waters, but they also feed on fish.

We have occasional sightings of Dwarf (as small as 7 feet and weighing as little as 300 lbs) and Pygmy Sperm Whales in the area, which are a fraction of the size of Sperm Whales (59 foot males, weighing up to 50 tons).  Unfortunately, these sightings are usually of severely ill or injured and/or dead whales which wash ashore due to unknown causes.

A final note about our abundant visitors, the Humpback Whale-- while numbers dwindled toward the end of April as they packed their bags to head back to Alaskan feeding grounds, they stuck around longer than normal this year.  Crew was able to see Humpbacks daily through the first week of May, with breaching activity at Molokini Crater May 4th.  All in all, it was a great season for whales and unusual sightings.  The only thing missing is you!!!

.... © 2007, Ev Schultz

Ev Schultz is an integral part of ERDA. She has managed the booking office for over ten years and is constantly being praised by our customers for her warm and friendly manor while dealing with our diver's needs.

Photo-Zoom Images by Randsco