Maui News

Pacific Whale Foundation Spots Its First Whale of the Season

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Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ocean Spirit spotted its first whale of the season this morning, Oct. 9, 2019 at exactly 11 a.m. The spotting was made in the ʻAuʻau Channel between Maui and Lānaʻi by PWF Captain Chris Walsh during a private Ocean Camp charter.

Earlier this month, captains aboard a tour boat off the coast of Kauaʻi reported that they may have spotted the first humpback whale of the season in Hawaiian waters, breaching about a mile off Keʻe Beach.

“Seeing humpback whales for the first time is always a special event,” shares Director of Commercial Operations Blake Moore, “Given that our young Ocean Campers were the first really embodies who we are as an organization; we are here to help develop the next generation of ocean stewards. We’re all very excited for them.”

Captain Walsh said those on board went on to observe spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins. “It was a fun learning experience for the kids on board today,” he said.


As a comparison, last year’s first PWF sighting was was made during the Foundation’s Molokini Wild Side Snorkel on Oct. 8 at 8:08 a.m.

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.

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 through


“By providing a platform of opportunity through our marine cruises as advocates for not only whales, but all marine life and their environment, we hope to inspire all to change the way we live and operate; to ensure that our keiki, and theirs, get to have greater opportunities to enjoy our environment through increased awareness of how we affect our planet,” said PWF Executive Director Kristie Wrigglesworth.

PacWhale Eco-Adventures officially kicks off whale watching season on November 9 with Welcome Home the Whales, a specialty cruise out of Lahaina Harbor featuring a blessing at sea. Members of PWF’s Research team will also be on board to offer their whale expertise and expectations for the coming season.

Dates of past first-whale sightings by the experts at Pacific Whale Foundation over the years are as follows: Oct. 8, 2018; Oct. 9, 2017; Oct. 20, 2016; Oct. 24, 2015; Oct. 14, 2014; Oct. 5, 2013; Oct. 15, 2012; Oct. 6, 2011; Oct. 20, 2010; Oct. 20, 2009; Oct. 8, 2008; Oct. 7, 2007; Oct. 11, 2006; Nov. 11, 2005; Oct. 23, 2004; Oct. 21, 2003; Nov. 3, 2002; Oct. 31, 2001; Sept. 16, 2000; Sept. 30, 1999; and Oct. 13, 1998.


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