“Thar She Blows”; Adult Female Humpback Frolics with EAST Whale Watchers Aboard Kekoa

About 30 passengers aboard Kekoa enjoyed an up-close look at a humpback whale which entertained the group for 45 minutes.

Passengers aboard the 50-foot catamaran Kekoa had a whale of tale to tell last week.

Each year the Environmental Association of St. Thomas/St. John (EAST) hosts several whale watching trips off the southern coast of St. John, but there is no guarantee that whales will actually be spotted.

Several hours into EAST’s first whale watch of the season on Sunday, February 20, 30 hopeful whale watchers got a treat when a roughly 45-foot humpback whale spent almost an hour playing around Kekoa, according to captain Ryan Witbeck.

“We were between Frenchman’s Cap and St. John and we’d been out a couple of hours,” said Witbeck. “We had spotted some other whales over near Ram’s Head when all of a sudden three whales appeared off our port side. We put the sails away and just drifted.”

A mother whale and her calf were accompanied by what was likely a “midwife,” explained Witbeck.

“I guess it was the midwife of the three, because there was a mother and a calf and then the third whale,” he said. “She decided to come over and say hello to us and she spent about 45 minutes with us. She did circles around the boat and under the boat and just hung out with us.”

“We were just adrift and she was following along,” Witbeck said. “She was swimming very close an slow and we could see her eye and everything. She seemed very curious about what we were up to.”


The 45-foot adult female whale stayed close to Kekoa and offered glimpses of her tail, top and nose, above.

The curious female whale was about 45-feet in length, according to Witbeck.

“I think the largest humpback whales get is about 50 feet, so she was definitely a full grown adult,” he said. “She was hanging out with us and put on a show.”
Humpbacks are one of about 30 species of cetaceans which call the Caribbean home at some point during the year. After feeding in cold northern waters during summer months, humpbacks migrate to the Caribbean in the winter and spring to calve and breed.

EAST hosted a second whale watching trip aboard Kekoa on Sunday, February 27, and will head out on its final sail on Sunday, March 6. Tickets are $55 for members and $65 for non-members. For more information call 774-1837 or 777-7190.