Posted on: October 15, 2012

Maui's First Reported Humpback Whale Sighting of Season: 9 AM on October 15

Pacific Whale Foundation's vessel Ocean Voyager reported a sighting of a humpback whale at exactly 9 am on Monday, October 15, 2012 about 4 miles outside Ma'alaea Harbor. It is believed to be the first reported sighting of a humpback whale off Maui this season.

Ocean Voyager was enroute to Molokini when the naturalists and captain saw a single whale. They observed the whale blow twice. The whale then did a fluke-up dive.

This sighting was the first reported sighting for Maui County, but not the first sighting for the state of Hawai’i. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hawai'i’s first sighting took place on August 31 off the coast of the Big Island. That whale was also a single whale, which surfaced off Honokohau Harbor. 

"I'd say this whale sighting is right on schedule," said Greg Kaufman, Executive Director of Pacific Whale Foundation. "Our entire team is absolutely thrilled about today's sighting."

Pacific Whale Foundation has records dating back to 1998, which show that 10 of the 14 first reported sightings off Maui took place in October; the others were in late September or early November.  
 
Here are the dates of the first reported Maui sightings:

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  

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. About 12,000 humpback whales are believed to migrate to Hawai’i each winter.
 
The whales don’t arrive all at once, but their numbers gradually increase. Pacific Whale Foundation marks the start of whalewatch season on Saturday, November 24, with its Welcome Home the Whales Celebration. At that point, Pacific Whale Foundation guarantees whale sightings on all of its whalewatch cruises, through mid-May.

Pacific Whale Foundation will begin whale search cruises in early November. Whale sightings are not guaranteed, but these two-hour cruises are educational and offer the perspective of viewing Maui from at-sea.
 
The presence of the whales will be celebrated during the annual Maui Whale Festival, which includes a fun run and walk for the whales, a paddling event, free talks, special cruises and the annual Parade of Whales and Whale Day celebration. 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