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VIDEO: First Whales of the Season Spotted

October 10, 2017, 12:05 PM HST · Updated October 11, 1:23 PM
Nikki Schenfeld · 0 Comments
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VIDEO: First Whales of the Season Spotted
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Pacific Whale Foundation had their first humpback whale sighting of the season this morning, Oct. 10, 2017, at 9:32 a.m. off the coast of Kapalua in West Maui.

Captain Alyssa Moser aboard Ocean Spirit spotted one adult male and one sub-adult humpback.

“Our Marine Naturalist onboard, Dan Kraver, was talking to our guests about different types of fish found in Maui waters when I saw two huge blows right behind him,” said Capt. Moser. “Another vessel called us for information about conditions at Honolua Bay and we told them about the whale sightings so they could come and watch with us.”

This morning’s first humpback whale sighting was aboard a Honolua Bay Snorkel & Sail ecotour. The location of the sighting was recorded at N 21° 00′ 21.60″, W 156° 40′ 55.19, which is not far from where the first whale was sighted by PacWhale last year on Oct. 20, 2016.

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“The whales do not arrive in Maui all at once,” said PWF Founder and Executive Director, Greg Kaufman. “Typically the first to arrive are last year’s mothers with their yearling calves, and then juvenile whales of both sexes, followed by mature males and females.”

The whales will come in increasing numbers from now until they peak in February and March.

At least 12,000 humpback whales are believed to migrate to Hawaiʻi each winter, with their rate increasing at 7% per year. They travel from their northern summer feeding area that extends from Northern California to the Bering Sea, arriving in Hawaiʻi to mate, give birth and care for their young calves.

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Humpback whales are protected by federal and state regulations which prohibit vessels and other water-users from approaching humpback whales within 100 yards. More information on responsible whalewatching is available through Pacific Whale Foundation’s Be Whale Aware guidelines.

The official season kick-off celebration, Welcome Home the Whales, will take place on Nov. 11, with a specialty cruise out of Lahaina Harbor featuring a traditional Hawaiian blessing and Polynesian dance performances at sea. Members of PWF’s research team will also be onboard to offer their whale expertise and expectations for the coming season.

“This sighting marks the beginning of an exciting time of year for all residents and visitors on the island,” said PWF Operations Manager, Blake Moore. “We look forward to sharing with everyone our passion for the ocean and our knowledge of humpback whales, Maui’s most gregarious and iconic seasonal visitor.”

Dates of past first-whale sightings by the Pacific Whale Foundation are as follows:

October 20, 2016
October 24, 2015
October 14, 2014
October 5, 2013
October 15, 2012
October 6, 2011
October 20, 2010
October 20, 2009
October 8, 2008
October 7, 2007
October 11, 2006
November 11, 2005
October 23, 2004
October 21, 2003
November 3, 2002
October 31, 2001
September 16, 2000
September 30, 1999
October 13, 1998

Nikki Schenfeld
Nikki joined the Maui Now team in 2016 as a writer/reporter. Originally from Chicago, she has had internships with CBS2 Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago where she had the opportunity to interview some of Chicago's best athletes. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. She moved to Maui in 2013.
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