February 01, 2012 | 12:07 PM"I flew out here on Southwest Airlines. Southwest has a plane that's painted like Shamu the whale from Sea World. Yeah, that'll be easy to find if that went down in the ocean. That'll be nice, when you're trying to get out and a real whale's humping your window."
Obviously it wasn't always this way, but beyond death and taxes, there's a new law to life: humans heart whales. This is especially so for those living in Hawaii, where migrating humpbacks are a hallmark to our winter season, and bring with them both joyful intrigue and tourist dollars.
If your fascination of these denizens of the deep is as strong as your affections, check out the Whale Trusts' new Whale Tales educational event, this Fri. and Sat. at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.
Whale Trust is "a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote, support and conduct scientific research on whales and the marine environment, and broadly communicate their findings," and their new Whale Tales event is "an outgrowth of Whale Quest Kapalua which was held successfully from 2006-2009 and in 2011."
The event was created to "provide whale enthusiasts an opportunity to learn about whales and the ocean environment from world-renowned scientists, photographers and filmmakers from around the world."
Flip Nicklin is the program's first presenter (Fri., 3-4:15pm), and presents a lecture called "Among Giants: A Life with Whales." Nicklin is the co-founder of Whale Trust and world-renowned underwater photographer who's spent his 30-year career specializing in the photography of marine mammals.
Nicklin's presentation is followed by Mark Ferrari (Fri., 4:30-5:15pm), the founder and director of The Center for Whale Studies (which this year celebrates their 38th consecutive year of continuous research conducted off West Maui in the Auau Channel), who will discuss "A Brief Look at the 2010-2011 Field Seasons."
Saturday's program begins with Dr. Jim Darling (10-10:20am), co-founder of the Whale Trust, who's lecture's titled "Gray Whales, Genetics, Behavior and Morocco." Dr. Darling's "primary studies include long-term investigations of behavior and ecology of gray whales in British Columbia, and humpback whales throughout the North Pacific."
Then Ed Lyman (10:30-10:50am), the marine mammal response manager for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary then discusses "Unravelling the Entanglement Threat for Hawaii's Humpback Whales." Lyman is followed by Craig Matkin (11-11:45am), an independent marine biologist and founding director of the North Gulf Oceanic Society, who will speak about "Chewing the Fat: Killer Whale Predation on Baleen Whales."
Rounding out the early afternoon (following lunch and a book signing session with Nicklin and Dr. Darling), Dr. Dan Salden (2-2:45pm) with "The Mysterious Sex Life of the Humpback Male." Dr. Salden is co-founder of the Hawaii Whale Research Foundation, and his work has focused on attempting to discover "long-term social affiliation patterns" in the winter breeding/calving grounds of Hawaii."
Finally, Dr. Bruce Mate (3-3:45pm) presents "OMC, Whales 'twitter' their BFF." Dr. Mate is a professor at Oregon State University and director of the school's Marine Mammal Program. "A leader in the development of satellite-monitored radio telemetry for marine mammals," Dr. Mate has "tagged and tracked manatees, pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, white-sided dolphins, gray whales, right whales, bowhead whales, humpback whales, sperm whales, fin whales and blue whales."
Also throughout the event, naturalists from Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment program will present complimentary activities for keiki five-to 12-years-old.
And you can't help but heart the fact that the two-day Whale Tale event is free and open to the public, though a $20 suggested donation will be gratefully accepted. All proceeds benefit the Whale Trust, Hawaii Whale Research Foundation and Center for Whale Studies–three local nonprofit organizations dedicated to whale research.
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Want more? Participate in one of the Whale Trusts' benefit whale watches this weekend, featuring Whale Tales' guest presenters. Sponsored by Trilogy Excursions, Lahaina Cruise Company, Capt. Steve's Rafting, Maui Adventure Cruises, Ocean Rafting and Ultimate Rafting, whale watch packages include $45 for a single excursion, $115 for a day pass (which includes all three Sun. excursions), $160 for a two-day pass (which includes all four excursions on Sat. and Sun.), and $150 for a special sunset excursion which includes pupus and cocktails ($100 of which is tax-deductible). Because limited seats are available, reservations are required (572-5700).
Sat., Feb. 4 with Mark Ferrari, 7:30-9:30am.
Sun., Feb. 5 with Flip Nicklin, 7:30-9:30am.
Sun., Feb. 5 with Bruce Mate, 10am-12pm.
Sun., Feb. 5 with Jim Darling, 1-3pm.
Mon., Feb. 6 with Dan Salden, 7:30-9:30am.
Mon., Feb 6 with special guests, 4-6pm.
Fri. and Sat., Feb. 3 & 4. Free (though a $20 suggested donation will be gratefully accepted). 3-5pm (Fri.) / 10am-5pm (Sat.). The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua (One Kapalua Dr.); 572-5700; whaletrust.org
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