This morning, Pacific Whale Foundation President Greg Kaufman sent out a news release stating that one of his boats spotted the first humpback whale of the season yesterday, in the waters just off Lahaina. But before you do any celebrating, Kaufman said the whale didn’t seem all that well.
“The brief video captured is a humpback encrusted with whale lice,” said Pacific Whale Foundation Founder Greg Kaufman in the news release. “The animal appears uninjured and not entangled. It could be sick, starving or suffering from an internal blunt trauma injury. Whale lice are naturally occurring on humpback whales but tend to proliferate when a whale becomes weak or sick. It’s akin to death by a thousand bites. We are sending our research team out first thing in the morning to see if they can track the whale’s whereabouts.”
Kaufman added that this is the earliest sighting of a whale in Maui waters that he can remember. Whale season in Hawaii typically starts in September/October.
“Pacific Whale Foundation has tracked the first whale sighting since 1998,” states the news release. “Previously, the earliest appearance recorded was on September 16 back in 2000. The majority of first sightings have taken place in October.”
According to the news release, the PWF vessel Ocean Quest was on a sunset dinner cruise on Thursday, Aug. 25 at the time of the sighting. They were about three quarters of a mile off the coast of Olowalu.
“The Coast Guard has been alerted and is requesting all boaters and water-users to be on the lookout,” states the news release.
Click here to view the PWF video.