Ocean Realm: Whale Tale 2019

Learn the latest in marine mammal research at Ritz and aboard daily cruises

The 13th annual Whale Tales makes a splash Friday through Monday at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and on daily whale watch cruises with top scientists, photographers and marine conservationists. For complete schedule or tickets to the boat cruises, visit www.whaletales.org or call 572-5700. RALPH PACE photo NMFS Permit No. 19225

Whale Trust is an esteemed nonprofit on Maui that will dive deep into the ocean realm at its 13th annual Whale Tales from Friday through Monday (the President’s Day holiday) at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and aboard various vessels.

Often described as West Maui’s premier humpback whale event, Whale Tales attracts ocean enthusiasts of all ages who like to hear first-hand what world-renowned scientists, photographers and marine conservationists are studying and discovering about the ocean and its inhabitants.

While the presentations are free and open to the public, registration is required. A $20 per day donation is suggested. All proceeds from Whale Tales are distributed to select organizations and students for more whale research in the state.

“The Whale Tales event brings together a unique community that advocates for stewardship and protection of our local whale population,” shares one attendee. “The more we learn about whales, the more we want to learn.”

The speaker list is impressive for adults and students. Small keiki will have plenty to keep them busy, too.

The Whale Trust’s world-famous photographer Charles “Flip” Nicklin (left) will do a presentation Saturday and Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (right) will do a talk Sunday at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. RALPH PACE photo NMFS Permit No. 19225

Listen to a presentation by Beth Goodwin of the Jupiter Research Foundation and Jim Darling, PhD, of the Whale Trust about the Humpback Pacific Survey, Songs Beyond Hawaii at 3:15 p.m. Friday.

Bill Keener of Golden Gate Cetacean Research will follow at 4 p.m. Friday with Tales of Urban Whales: San Francisco Bay’s Cetacean Restoration. At 1:15 p.m. Saturday, one of the most widely regarded whale photographers in the world, Charles “Flip” Nicklin of the Whale Trust and a National Geographic contributor with more than 5,500 dives, will talk 40 years of Whales — The Role Lahaina Has Played in Our Changing View of Whales. The list goes on and on from one impressive topic to the next with the world’s top experts.

Besides presentations at the Ritz, you may choose from a selection of benefit whale watches with isle companies that donate the boats and crew for Whale Tales weekend: Captain Steve’s Rafting Adventures, Hawaii Ocean Project, Hawaii Ocean Rafting, Jayhawk Yacht, Makai Adventures, Maui Adventure Cruises, Sea Monkey Private Charters, Trilogy Excursions and Ultimate Whale Watch. Cruises launch daily through Monday with a Family Day cruise Sunday featuring fascinating onboard educational stations for keiki.

The cruises run from 8 to 11:30 a.m. so that you may also attend the presentations at the Ritz in the afternoons. For children, the Ritz will feature an expo bringing in Maui Ocean Center’s coral-feeding station along with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s 48-foot walk-in inflatable humpback whale.

“What makes Whale Tales special and unique is the sense of the island community surrounding the event,” says Meagan Jones, Whale Trust co-founder/executive director.

A gentle giant, this adult humpback whale dives down into the ocean depths, holding its breath for upwards of 30 minutes. It’s one of many stunning pictures that you will see at Whale Tales. FLIP NICKLIN /MINDEN PICTURES NMFS Permit No. 19225

“Whale Tales isn’t about just one organization. At its heart, Whale Tales symbolizes the spirit of collaboration within Maui’s whale research community,” she enthuses about the popular event.

Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary will present a talk on Catch and Release: Large Whale Entanglement Response updates from Hawaii at 3:15 p.m. Sunday. Lyman’s colleague Marc Lammers, PhD, will also speak on the Oceanwide Science Institute and Assessing Recent Trends in Hawaii’s Humpback Whale Population at 2:15 p.m. Friday.

Mark Kelley of Mark Kelley Photography will do The Whale Connection: Alaska’s Whales…Summertime Home For Maui’s Winter Whales at 1:15 p.m. Sunday. And Nicholas Kellar, PhD, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, will appear to speak about Fatty Endocrinology: How Signals of Stress, Reproduction and Nutritional State Can Be Measured in Blubber at 2 p.m. on Sunday. But it doesn’t stop there. Nick Pyenson, PhD, of Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, will highlight Spying on Whales at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Even more speakers include Ralph Lee Hopkins of Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic; and Randy Wells, PhD, of Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, who will talk about Dolphins of Sarasota Bay — Helping With Small Cetacean Conservation Efforts Around the World.

Featured photographers and artists include Randy Puckett, author of “The Whales of Randy Puckett”; Marty Wolff of Marty Wolff Photography; Drew Sulock of Artistic Nature and Adventure Photography; Scott Methvin of Methvin Fine Arts; and Ralph Pace, a research photographer for the Whale Trust.

Appetites should be in high gear with all of the action going on.

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua will sizzle at the oceanfront Burger Shack for lunch and dinner. The resort’s newly reimagined Ulana features a daily breakfast buffet and an a la carte menu. Take the experience over the top with bottomless champagne offerings for $25 per person. For Ritz reservations, call 665-7089.