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Old 05-06-2014
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Dangers of Whales

Here in Hawaii there are about 10,000 (and growing every year) Humpback whales that winter over, then head to Alaska for the summer. These whales can be up to 40 feet long. The whales can breach, coming almost completely out of the water and landing on their sides (to do this they surface from great depths to build up the necessary speed). Somtimes when sailing there are 20 whales within a 3 mile radius of me.

One of my biggest fears is having one of these whales breach and land on my boat, or ram and hole me or break my rudder. The bottom paint on my boat is black- like a whale, maybe a male whale will try to "fight" my boat. Would white bottom paint be better? I have heard they may think your boat is a killer whale and stay away.

So do these whales use sonar to know there is a boat around? How big of a danger are they? What about hitting a sleeping whale while sailing at night? I think they sleep in a floating vertical position?

There was a tourist killed here a few years back when a breaching whale landed on the side of a whale watch catamaran. I have had whales head towards me (while I am dead in the water with no wind) then dive under my boat only to surface on the other side less than 50 feet away- the exhaling whale scared the heck out of me when it surfaced and blew.
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Old 05-06-2014
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Re: Dangers of Whales

Quote:
Originally Posted by casey1999 View Post
...
So do these whales use sonar to know there is a boat around? How big of a danger are they? What about hitting a sleeping whale while sailing at night? I think they sleep in a floating vertical position?
...
Toothed whales, including dolphins, etc., echolocate. But baleen whales, like your Humpbacks, don't. There is some evidence that some baleen whales "click" in a similar fashion to toothed whales, but the frequencies they use are probably not very useful for "seeing" with much detail. More likely, they are just able to judge where the bottom is.
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Old 05-06-2014
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Re: Dangers of Whales

When we were in Australia we were told that whales are attracted to black bottoms. Don't know if they want to mate or are just amorous, or whether this only applies to whales in Australia. We have always had blue antifouling so not able to test the theory.

We had a close encounter with a sperm whale of around 30 to 35 feet (think minor league Moby Dick) north of the USVI in 2009. We were on autopilot at the time and he would have T-boned us but altered his course when he was about 50 feet away to go astern. My wife saw him (her/it?) first and screamed louder than I have ever heard her scream - in fact, I think this is the only time she has ever screamed. i chastised her later and said she should have shouted, "Thar, she blows!". She was not amused.

Of all the things that can kill you at sea, I tend to put whales fairly far down the list. Ahead of rogue containers but that is not a very high bar.
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Old 05-06-2014
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Re: Dangers of Whales

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Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
When we were in Australia we were told that whales are attracted to black bottoms. Don't know if they want to mate or are just amorous, or whether this only applies to whales in Australia. We have always had blue antifouling so not able to test the theory.

...
We had a thread about this last year.

"Whales, unlike nocturnal rodents or ourselves, see the world in monochrome."

You're Eye-to-Eye With a Whale in the Ocean?What Does It See? - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
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Old 05-06-2014
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Re: Dangers of Whales

I also worry about these critters. Judging from the number of Dolphin that have nasty gashes in their topsides, I would say they are not all that great at keeping out of the way! One wrong move on their part could easily mess up a rudder or a prop. When they dive under the boat and play their games, coming up right alongside, I always hold my breath, waiting for the thump. I once had a big black boat that a LARGE Orca came right up alongside and swam parallel for a while. That was somewhat nerve wracking. A friend of mine nearly sunk after hitting some kind of fish off Shinnecock. He barely made it in. It stove in a couple of ribs. Before restocking the world's oceans with a lot of Sperm Whales, maybe we ought to think it over. We sailors may get to have the same attitude Western Ranchers have about restocking Wolves:-)
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Old 05-06-2014
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Re: Dangers of Whales

I worry about whale more than floating containers. I wonder if there is a device that can emit some low power sonar to guide the whales away.
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Re: Dangers of Whales

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Originally Posted by rockDAWG View Post
I worry about whale more than floating containers. I wonder if there is a device that can emit some low power sonar to guide the whales away.
Here in Hawaii my GPS has a depth finder- which sends out some sort of sonar signal. I wonder what impact that has on the whales? I have had pods of humbacks swim under my boat- also pick them up on the GPS's fish finder. Maybe I should turn of the depth/fish finder- might make one of the whales mad and it will come to get me.

What effect does all this noise pollution have on the whales, in my waters there are a few fishing boats also running fish finders.
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Re: Dangers of Whales

6 decades on the water, an average of 70 trips a year, had a right whale surface about 20 feet on day off Ocean City, MD, but never, ever had a close call of any kind and don't personally know anyone that has.

Gary
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Re: Dangers of Whales

My wife taught for a while at some sort of cetacean studies school near La Paz. They went right out in the midst of the whales all the time and never had a problem. A blue whale even surfaced near them once, twice the length of the boat!

I have no idea what color their bottom paint was
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Re: Dangers of Whales

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Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
6 decades on the water, an average of 70 trips a year, had a right whale surface about 20 feet on day off Ocean City, MD, but never, ever had a close call of any kind and don't personally know anyone that has.

Gary
Here in Hawaii the danger is very real:

Hawaii Whale Safety Workshops | Pacific Island National Parks

Hawaii Whale Safety Workshops
November 26, 2010
tags: Big Island, boating, conservation, events, Hawaii, Hawaiian Islands, humpback, Kauai, marine life, Maui, news, NOAA, Oahu, ocean, photography, safety, travel, whales, wildlife, workshopby Pacific Island Ranger
.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is offering special boater safety workshops to help prevent scenes like this! (NOAA)
NOAA’S Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Office of Law Enforcement Announce Whale Safety Workshops

NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Office of Law Enforcement is hosting a series of boater workshops to help vessel operators stay safe and operate within the law during humpback whale season.
The public workshops, which begin this month, will review guidelines, tips, and regulations concerning vessel-whale avoidance and safe and legal whale watching. New information and recent research also will be discussed. For the complete schedule of workshops please visit the sanctuary online at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary .

“Vessel collisions are recognized as a major source of injury and death for endangered whales in Hawaii,” said Allen Tom, acting sanctuary superintendent and Pacific Islands Regional Director. “It’s important for boaters to be extra vigilant during whale season, for their own safety and the protection of these magnificent animals.”
As many as 12,000 humpback whales winter in Hawaiian waters each year. These acrobatic, 45-ton marine mammals attract wildlife enthusiasts, but vessel-whale collisions pose a serious injury threat to whales and boaters. Ocean users also are subject to risks when whales surface, breach, or slap their massive tails or flippers.

Humpback whale season in Hawai‘i generally runs from November through May, although whales may be encountered in limited numbers during other months. The usual peak in humpback abundance occurs from January through March.

Endangered humpback whales are protected in Hawaii. Federal regulations prohibit approaching within 100 yards of whales when in the water, and 1,000 feet when operating an aircraft. These and other federal marine mammal and endangered species protection regulations apply to all ocean users, including vessel operators, kayakers, and paddle boarders, throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Humpback whales congregate in ocean waters less than 600 feet deep throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. Mariners may also encounter humpback whales at the surface over deeper waters, however. Ocean users are urged to take caution during the humpback whale season by keeping a sharp lookout, traveling at a slow, safe speed and always staying at the vessel’s helm.

Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is administered jointly by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources. The sanctuary works to protect humpback whales through research, education, conservation and stewardship.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration < http:// http://www.noaa.gov/>; or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaa < http://www.facebook.com/usnoaa> .

On the Web:
http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa
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