The first whale of the season was spotted by Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ocean Explorer Monday morning, October 8. The humpback was seen at 8:08am, 2.4 miles north of Molokini, headed toward Ma‘alaea Harbor.
The spotting was made by PWF Captain Aaron Bement. “This is why we do this,” said Bement. “You never know what you’ll see on any given day. Once day, it’s the endangered false killer whales that our research team is studying, the next spinner dolphins, and today our first humpback whale sighting.”
Monday’s first humpback whale sighting was made during PWF’s Molokini Wild Side Snorkel. As a comparison, last year’s first sighting was near Honolua Bay at 4:44 PM on October 9, 2017.
“Seeing the first whale is always a good sign for us,” said PacWhale Eco-Adventure Captain and crew member Courtney Cox. “It means that last season was successful for the them, and hopefully we’ll get to see some calves soon! We’re lucky that we were one of the first to spot them.”
At least 12,000 humpback whales are believed to migrate to Hawai‘i each winter, with their rate increasing at seven percent per year. They travel from their northern summer feeding area that extends from Northern California to the Bering Sea, arriving in Hawai‘i 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 whale watching is available through Pacific Whale Foundation’s Be Whale Aware guidelines through pacificwhale.org.
PacWhale Eco-Adventures officially kicks off whale watching season on November 10 with Welcome Home the Whales, 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.
Owned 100 percent by Pacific Whale Foundation, PacWhale Eco-Adventures offers top rated ocean eco-tours, including snorkel trips, sunset dinner and cocktail cruises, stargazing excursions, and Maui’s original and most award-winning whale watch. As a social enterprise PacWhale Eco-Adventures is a for-profit business that sells eco-cruises and eco-conscious retail items in order to help fund the mission of its parent nonprofit organization, Pacific Whale Foundation, with additional funds raised through memberships, donations, charitable grants, and in-kind services.
“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 acting Executive Director Kristie Wrigglesworth.
The earliest first whale sighting by the experts at Pacific Whale Foundation in the last 10 years was on September 16, 2000; the latest was November 11, 2005.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Whale Foundation