Well Lahaina Divers dive buddies, it is that time of the year again. Yep, you got it right, Whale season!!! Many of us wait in anticipation of this time of the year, and not for turkey meals, or Christmas presents, but for the return of our annual visitors, the Humpback Whales. Each year, these mammoth mammals navigate over 3,000 miles of open ocean, migrating from the plankton rich waters of Alaska to the clear, warm waters of Hawaii to mate and give birth. During this migration, it is believed that the Whales use the earth’s magnetic field, temperatures, and currents to find their way back to our waters. As well, during their migration, they will average between 3 to 7 miles an hour with very few stops in between. Since the average human walks about 3 miles per hour, image walking at a brisk pace for 2,500 to 3,000 miles and rarely stop during that journey!
Our annual Whale season starts normally in November and runs until May. This year, our first sighting of a humpback Whale was back in September and now they are beginning to arrive in earnest. Each year, we have seen a slight increase in the Whale population that visits us here in Hawaii. The overall Humpback whale population is estimated to be near 12,000 whales which is well below the pre-whaling population, but is slowly growing. Last year, during the annual Humpback Whale count here in Maui 1,054 Whales were counted. As the population of Humpback Whales o visit Maui varies from year to year, last year’s numbers were still considered strong. As a point of perspective, in 2011 1,607 Whales were counted and 2010 1,208 were counted. With over 1,000 Whales here in the waters surrounding Maui, your chances of seeing a Whale are great, and even better, your chances of being serenaded by Whales singing while you are on a dive are pretty good.
Male Humpback Whales are those that sing while here at the breeding grounds. Scientists speculate that this behavior is to either attract females, or to warn off other males. What is even more amazing is that the song the males start with at the beginning of the season is exactly the same song they ended the last season with. As the season progresses, their song will gradually change. Scientists believe that this is a display of a male Whales strength as it displays the Whale’s ability to hold its breath, or how long or loud they can sing.
Topside behavior is amazing as well, and is what we see the most. Whether it is simply breathing, to breaches, pectoral fin slaps, or if you are lucky, a spy-hop where they will rise straight out of the water and look around. On a rare occasion, during our transit between dive sites and Lahaina, we will encounter a competition pod, or also known as a comp pod. These are groups of males swimming with a female and competing amongst each other physically by pushing, bumping, slapping, or otherwise competing against each other to win the female’s favor.
While we enjoy watching our large visitors while plying the waters between Lahaina and our dive sites, we must keep in mind some key items. First and foremost, our Humpback Whales are a protected species and there are laws concerning approaching or nearing these great creatures. The law states that nobody is to approach any closer than 100 yards. Over the last few years, the authorities have been cracking down even harder on this regulation. Also, we are a diving facility and our primary focus is to get you to your dive site and back on time as many of our guests have other activities scheduled for the day. We will however, where possible, safe, legal, and time permitting, give our guests a chance to see our Humpback Whales that are here visiting us.
As always, we look forward to sharing your vacation with us and having the opportunity to show you the splendors of the underwater Maui. Now that Whale season is upon us, we also get to enjoy the added benefit of being in the same waters as these magnificent creatures. It is only because of you we get to do this, so we would like to thank you for ‘taking us diving’ while you are here. Until next time, A Hui Ho.
Welcome back LD Dive Buddies! There is a lot that has been going on lately and I thought I would get you caught up before the list gets too long. As you can see by all of our Facebook posts, Tweets, and such, we are ramping up more things to do and really good specials through Lahaina Divers. With all of this comes the need to keep you up to date. Yes, there is a lot of shameless marketing sales pitches in this blog post, sorry but I really need to tell you about them.
Let’s start with the fun stuff: Lahaina Divers is holding our first annual Underwater Halloween Costume Contest. From now through Halloween, when you come diving with us, bring a costume, a Halloween mask, or something Halloween underwater, take a picture and send it in. Entries will be voted on by the LD staff on November 2nd at our staff meeting and the winner will receive a gift certificate for 50% off two divers on a dive trip to Lanai, Molokini, or Turtle Reef. Ok Mike, I am here already and left my costume at home, what do I do? Well, here on Maui there are a few good places to get a costume. Savers on Dairy Rd., LahainaHalloween.com, Maxi’s Costumes, Wal-Mart, and Kmart all have a great collection of costumes. All we ask is that the costume is something that won’t come apart underwater and damage our reefs and more importantly, that it is something that is safe to use underwater. Hopefully we will get a bunch of pictures so we can post them on our website and Facebook. For more information, see the flyer HERE.
Next, Suunto and Lahaina Divers have teamed up to offer you a great deal on your next dive computer. When you buy a D9tx, D6i, D4i, Vyper Air, or Hel02 between now and Dec 31, 2012, you will receive a free wireless tank pressure transmitter. Yes, we said FREE!! Ok Mike, what is that saving me? These transmitters are retail priced at $450! For some, that is a round trip plane ticket, for others that is an upgrade to first class on your flight to Maui. Or, you can take the savings from this and buy one of our gently used Aqua Lung Axiom BCDs. The prices on these BCDs are so low I really can’t publish it here, but suffice it to say it is well over 50% off the retail price. On all of our gear, we meticulously maintain all of our rental equipment and take it out of service long before it starts to show any wear and tear.
Ok, enough unabashed plugs… on to the fun stuff! The weather and the diving have been absolutely awesome here lately. Saturday our divers spotted quite a few sharks on our Hammerhead Dive, and Molokini was crazy with sleeping White Tip Reef Sharks and one Barracuda that just wouldn’t leave my dive group alone. We were pretty sure it was the same guy that followed us around on both of our dives. Plus we saw a couple gigantic eels that were mind-boggling in girth. We also saw four Peacock Groupers co-operatively hunting over the reef at Aquarium. Whenever you are diving Maui, and especially at Molokini Crater, watch for different species hunting together. I have seen Sharks and Eels, Eels and Bluefin Trevally, and once we saw a White Tip Reef Shark, a Yellow Margin Eel, a Peacock Grouper, and two Blue Fin Trevallies all co-operatively hunting in a pack.
This morning one of our local radio stations announced that the first Humpback Whale of the season was sighted off Maui! They didn’t provide any further information as to where and when and I haven’t had a chance to confirm the sighting, but that can only mean we are getting really close to whale season. If you have not been diving with us during whale season, you are missing out on something special. To be cruising the reef while the males sing and sometimes, on a rare occasion, to have them so close your whole body vibrates is an experience worth putting on your bucket list. There are times during whale season that it gets so thick with whales between Lahaina and our dive sites that we have to stop and wait for the whales to cross just so we stay the mandated distance of 100 yards away. Needless to say, this always provides a great opportunity for topside photos of our annual visitors.
Well, I need to sign off and get to work planning some other cool stuff coming up. Thinking about photo contests, week long dive society events, underwater photography workshops, and more. If you have a suggestion, please post your comment below, I would love to hear what you suggest. Don’t be shy, but also keep it PG-13 please. If you are interested in some type of week-long dive event or workshop, contact us via this page and let us know. We would love to hear your input. Until next time, thank you for taking me diving with you and I hope we can do it again soon.
Welcome back Lahaina Divers dive buddies! Well, we are soon heading into Humpback whale season here in Maui and with our first sighting recently off Kona on the Big Island, it means we will be seeing some of our beloved Humpback Whales off the coast of Maui and our surrounding islands. Ok, show of hands, how many people like seeing our big visitors here in Maui... Wow, a lot of you do! As we head into whale season, I will see if I can conjure up some photos of this year's sightings and post them here or on our Facebook page.
Speaking of sightings, recently on a dive at our favorite afternoon dive spot, Mala Wharf, our divers were treated to some dolphins coming in and checking us out. One of our guests shared their video of the dolphins on our Facebook page so be sure and go check it out. For those of you that haven't been there Mala is a collapsed concrete pier thanks to hurricane Iniki in 1992 and has since become a haven for tons of critters. Even though the dive site is only a few hundred feet long, divers and snorkelers alike can spend hours spotting things both big and small. A few White Tip Reef Sharks have taken up residence there and can be found sleeping in various spots under the structure while Green Sea Turtles are hovering overhead. For the more patient of divers, small and hard to spot critters such as Imperial Nudibranchs and Frog fish can be found. Mala Wharf with its small cracks and crevices also serves as a great spot to find Moray Eels, Octopus (Tako), Slipper Lobsters, and Sponge Crabs. One thing to keep in mind though with Mala, is that it is a collapsed concrete structure so there is exposed rebar and other sharp and pointy things on the dive site, so as the captain says in his site briefing, “If it looks sharp and pointy, it is, so be careful as you dive the site.”
For those wanting to dive a little deeper we have had some epic dives at Molokini both in the crater and on the backwall. There have been some dives inside the crater that I have led on Saturday mornings where I needed a few more arms and hands just to point out all of the critters. With visibility as good as 250' at times, and even on the 'bad' days visibility being as 'horrid' as 150' in the crater, you can't go wrong at Molokini or any of our other dive sites such as Lanai or West Maui and Turtle Reef.
Ok, I hinted at this in my earlier blog post... For those of you that have been lucky enough to have Captain Elliot welcome you aboard, you may remember that he is OCD about cell phones ringing, and that at the time, there was not an "app for that." Well, I am happy to report that there is NOW an "app for that!" Lahaina Divers now carries the iGills dive computer housing for your iPhone 3 and 4. So for those of you that camped out for your new iPhone 5, don't toss out your old phone. The iGills is an underwater housing with the depth and temperature sensor as well as a 5 button interface built into the cover and a special flat dome lens on the back. And best of all, the iGills app is FREE!!! Lahaina Divers is selling the iGills for the same price you can get them on the mainland.
Ok Mikol, so it sounds cool, but really, what does it do? It is a full recreational dive computer that works in air, nitrox, or gauge mode, but it also allows you to take photos or video while still showing you the key diving information such as depth and NDL bottom time remaining. But wait, that's not all... it also allows you to use the iPhone's compass and for those that have the iPhone 4, the compass works at any angle. If you want to know more, check it out at www.iGills.com. Ok, sounds cool and all, but what if the unthinkable happens and it floods? Diver's Alert Network (DAN) will insure it for $99 per year. (Cost to cover a 16Gb iPhone 4s and the housing) To find out more, ask at the shop when you buy your iGills.
Well, I have to run and get my dive bag packed so I can go diving tomorrow. A big huge thank you to our guests for making LD a great place to work, and more importantly for being there to 'take me diving.' Until next time, A Hui Hou (Till we meet again!)
Hello, my name is Mikol and I am a Divemaster here at Lahaina Divers. Some of you may know me as the LD 'Weekend Warrior', some of you may know me as 'Flat Top', or simply the dive guide whose 'hair-do doesn't change underwater'! I have been asked to hijack the LD blog here and share with you from time to time some tidbits and goings on around LD, our dive sites, and Maui.
In this blog I hope to share about some of the fun stuff we see in and around our dive sites here in Maui, Lanai, Molokini, and our secret Hammerhead dive site. So from time to time, I will post about our dives, or some of the cool things we have seen lately, or even, heaven forbid, some of the fun antics of our divers that come out to enjoy our warm Hawaiian waters with us.
So what has Lahaina Divers been up to lately since there haven't been many posts here? We have been up to a lot! We have added some new dives and have been revamping the shop with some new gear and gadgets. We have also been welcoming some great new faces to the LD team. It has been a season of change and what we have heard from our diving buddies is that it has been great.
First and foremost, we added an exciting dive for our advanced divers. Many have enjoyed drifting around the backside of Molokini Crater and yet during their ride back the harbor looked out at Lanai and wondered what it would be like to drift over and through the lava rock topology of Lanai, well you can join us now on Thursdays to do just that. We have quite a few different spots for you to 'dive, dive, dive' from and starting with the live drop-off all the way to the live blue water pick-up you have opportunities to see some amazing swim-throughs, pelagic critters, dolphins, and even some hard to find nudibranchs. Due to the nature of the live drop-off and pick-ups in the blue on this dive, we do limit this to our advanced diving guests. But wait, if you are relatively new to diving, not to worry. Call us or ask at the shop about what you can do to improve your diving skills such as buoyancy control, air consumption, and drift diving skills. In some cases, through some advanced training, we can possibly help you get ready for the Lanai or Molokini drift dives.
Even though our drift dives are one of a kind here in Maui, we have some awesome other dives that despite my having dove them too many times to count, I still see something new on every dive. A new critter, a new behavior, or even a twist on something I have seen before. I am not going to spoil the fun though and write about all of it one blog, you will just have to come back and check out my next blogs to find out about them.
So, I mentioned new faces. Yes, we have welcomed aboard some great people in the shop and on the boat as well as behind the scenes. Since I don't know when you visited us last, I cannot really tell who is new since you have been here before or not, so you will just need to visit our staff page to see who our new additions are. If they haven't posted their bio by the time you come back out with us, then you will have to bug them when you see them on the boat or in the shop!
We have added some new items in our shop as well as brought in the new versions that the manufacturers have released. I will blog about them in future blogs, but I will give you a hint of what I will highlight in my next blog... Captain Elliot, there IS now an app for that! When you are here, take some time to cruise the shop. We are open until 8pm almost every night so it is a great place to stop, walk off your dinner, kill some time before the night life starts, or even complete your paperwork in preparation for your dives with us. And if you don't have time to stop by before you come diving with us, you can click HERE, download your paperwork and complete it before you even get here. (Just remember to pack it with your dive gear so you don't forget it like I do).
As I say to those in my group when I get to come out and work on the boat, 'Thank you for taking me diving, because if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't get to do this.' Thank you for making Lahaina Divers your dive buddies and making us a part of your vacation. I look forward to reading your comments and if you have something you want me to blog about, please let me know below.
BTW, did someone mention 'Whales'? Did I hear 'Whales'? What was this I heard about our first Whale sighting of this year off Kona? Is it nearing Whale season again? Hmmmmm....