Posted on: October 5, 2013

First Humpback Whale of the 2013-2014 Season Sighted Off Maui

The whales are back! An adult humpback whale did a "beautiful" fluke up dive in front of excited crew and passengers on Pacific Whale Foundation's vessel Ocean Voyager at 7:36 am this morning (Saturday, October 5, 2013). This is Pacific Whale Foundation's first verified humpback whale sighting of the season off Maui.
 
Captain Gabriel Wilson of Ocean Voyager reported that the humpback whale was sighted about two miles from Molokini towards Wailea heading north in the direction of Ma'alaea Bay. 
 
"I was the first to spot a single blow on our way out on the port side," Captain Wilson reported. "I couldn't believe it, so I headed in that direction."
 
"We got about 300 yards from the whale's location and watched it blow a few times, and then do a fluke up dive," he noted.
 
Wilson said that the crew did not get any photos but some of the passengers did. The photos on this page were provided by passenger David Willicome of Calgary, Canada.  
 
"This first sighting is right on schedule," commented Greg Kaufman, founder and 
Executive Director of Pacific Whale Foundation. "Last year's first sighting took place on October 15 and coincidentally was also by Ocean Voyager during a Molokini snorkel cruise."
 
"The majority of our other first sightings took place in October," he noted.
 
The dates of the earlier years' sightings are:
October 6, 2011
October 20, 2010
October 20, 2009
October 8, 2008
October 7, 2007
October 11, 2006
November 11, 2005
October 23, 2004
October 21, 2003
November 3, 2002
October 31, 2001
September 16, 2000
September 30, 1999
October 13, 1998  
 
Kaufman reports that the migrating whales do not arrive all at once. They begin to appear off Maui's coasts in autumn, with their numbers increasing through November and December. 
 
Humpback whales migrate to Hawai’i from their northern summer feeding area that extends from Northern California to the Bering Sea. The whales migrate to Hawai’i to mate, give birth and care for their young. At least 12,000 humpback whales are believed to migrate to Hawaii each winter. 
 
 Pacific Whale Foundation will be offering early season whalewatches with guaranteed sightings starting November 4. If whales are not sighted during your whalewatch, you get a "Just a Fluke" coupon to go again free, anytime within one year. 
 
"We added the guarantee  because we want our early season whalewatchers to have the best shot at seeing whales," says Kaufman. "Based on our data from our Whale and Dolphin Tracking program on our vessels, we felt comfortable offering this guarantee starting November 4."
 
Pacific Whale Foundation's two-hour whalewatches include expert narration by certified marine naturalists and marine biologists. They also include a free Jr. Naturalist program for kids and a free whale poster for each party. For reservations, call (808) 249-8811 ext. 1 or visit www.pacificwhale.org.
 
The presence of the whales will be celebrated during the annual Maui Whale Festival, which includes a fun run and walk for the whales on February 1, 2014,  free talks, special cruises and the annual Parade of Whales and Whale Day celebration on February 15, 2014. To learn more, visit www.mauiwhalefestival.org.
 
To learn more about Hawaii’s humpback whales, download a PDF copy of Pacific Whale Foundation’s Hawai’i humpback whale guide at http://www.pacificwhale.org/sites/pacificwhale.org/files/Humpback-Whale-Guide.pdf
 
Pacific Whale Foundation is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to protecting our oceans through science and advocacy. Pacific Whale Foundation largely self-funds its work by offering ocean ecotours, including whalewatches, snorkel cruises and other ocean adventures off the coast of Maui. To learn more, please visit www.pacificwhale.org