Whale Season Returns with First Maui Humpback Sighting

October 16, 2012, 12:55 PM HST · Updated October 16, 12:58 PM
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By Wendy Osher

The Pacific Whale Foundation reported its first humpback whale sighting of the season in Maui waters yesterday.

The single whale was spotted about four miles outside of Ma’alaea Harbor at 9 a.m. on Monday, October 15, 2012.

The captain and naturalist aboard the PWF’s Ocean Voyager vessel reported seeing the whale blow twice and do a fluke-up dive.

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While the report is believed to be the first official sighting of the season in Maui waters, it is not the first in the state.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported a sighting off Honokohau Harbor on the Big Island of Hawai’i on August 31, 2012.

Another whale sighting was reported in the agency’s blog today (October 16).  At 8:30 a.m., the PWF’s vessel Ocean Quest reported sighting a lone juvenile whale in the channel between Maui and Lana’i.

In each of the past three years, the first sightings off Maui took place on October 20. According to PWF records, 10 of the last 14 first sightings reported off Maui took place in October.  The others were in late September or early November.

“I’d say this whale sighting is right on schedule,” said Greg Kaufman, Executive Director of Pacific Whale Foundation in a statement.

Humpback whales migrate to Hawai’i on an annual basis during the winter months to mate and give birth.

The Pacific Whale Foundation kicks off its whalewatch season on Saturday, November 24, at which point they guarantee whale sightings on all of the company’s whalewatch cruises through mid-May.

Whale search cruises will begin before then in early November for educational and sight-seeing purposes.

The presence of the whales will be celebrated during the annual Maui Whale Festival, which includes a fun run and walk for the whales, a paddling event, free talks, special cruises and the annual Parade of Whales and Whale Day celebration.

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