Deep-sea adventure captures humpback whales’ song off Kona

Courtesy: GoPro and Hawkes Ocean Technology

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Video courtesy: GoPro and Hawkes Ocean Technology

Ocean engineer Graham Hawkes was first moved by the music of humpback whales several decades ago.

“I swam a long time ago with the whales in Hawaii and that’s never left me,” Hawkes said.

His curiosity was never satisfied until now.

Hawkes is a renowned submersible designer based in northern California.

He and pilot Lee Behel recently went on a surreal adventure in the DeepFlight Super Falcon submersible in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary off Kona.

“They’re in this area,” Hawkes said.

Their mission: searching for whale song.

“Now we have a machine that can move in the water much the way these big animals can,” Hawkes said.

GoPro’s Creative Director Bradford Schmidt mounted 24 GoPro cameras on the Super Falcon. Using hydrophones to help capture audio, the seasoned explorers cruised the underwater valleys of Hawaii to capture whales singing.

“To be down deep in these acoustic channels listening to these magnificent animals presumably singing for a mate,” Hawkes said.

When the submersible reached depths of 200 feet, the stars began to sing.

“I can hear it,” Hawkes said. “That whale song… it’s kind of spiritual to be honest. You feel like you’re in the presence of an intelligence.”

“It’s just plain magical and you combine that with the blue Hawaiian water and just to know you’re in the company of those animals. Yeah, that’s goose bumps territory,” Hawkes said.

It’s territory reached thanks to technology and the desire to explore.

For more information about the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, visit this website.
And for more information on Hawkes Ocean Technology go to

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