Maui News

First Whale Sighting in Maui Waters

October 7, 2011, 7:16 AM HST
* Updated October 7, 3:46 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Passenger Rich West of Snohomish, Washington provided the photos (shown here) of the larger whale. Courtesy PWF.

The first humpback whale sighting in Maui County waters this season was reported yesterday morning off the eastern coast of Lana’i.

According to the Pacific Whale Foundation, a pair of humpbacks was sighted at 8:35 a.m. on Thursday, October 6, about 2 miles off the coast by the raft, Great White.

The sighting was confirmed by the nearby Ocean Discovery vessel, operated by the Pacific Whale Foundation.  Captain Bryson Oliveira confirmed the pod included one adult whale and one smaller whale that appeared to be a yearling.

The Maui sighting comes a week-and-a-half after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reported the first state sighting of the season near Honaunau Bay, Hawaii Island on September 26.

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“We were jumping up and down when we heard the news,” said Merrill Kaufman, Chief Operations Officer at Pacific Whale Foundation. “It is always a cause for excitement when we discover the whales are back.”

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For the past two years, the first sighting off of Maui was reported on October 20.

Humpback whales return to Hawai’i each year as part of their winter migration to give birth and care for their young.  An estimated 12,000 humpback whales are believed to make the journey, according to the Pacific Whale Foundation.

The agency celebrates the start of whalewatch season on Saturday, November 26, when whale sightings are guaranteed through mid-May.

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*** Supporting information courtesy, Pacific Whale Foundation.

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