Maui’s first humpback whale sighting was reported today about two nautical miles offshore of Mala Wharf at approximately 12:45pm (Tuesday, October 14, 2014). The whale was spotted by the crew of Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ocean Quest: Captains Ben Eisenstein and Carols Cardenas and Marine Naturalists Mark Danielson and Christy Kozama, who called in to report the sighting and also provided the photo on this page (showing Mark with the whale just right of center in the distance).
Ocean Quest was on a Lanai Snorkel and Dolphin Watch out of Lahaina Harbor at the time. Captain Carlos noticed a big splash in the water and made way towards it. Another vessel in the area, Queen’s Treasure, confirmed it to be a humpback whale and reported seeing a breach and fluke up dive. Ocean Quest witnessed a “round-out” or peduncle arch in the distance. “The humpback whale appeared to be a yearling or sub-adult,” said Captain Carlos.
“The migrating humpback whales do not arrive all at once,” commented Greg Kaufman, Founder and Executive Director of Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF). “They begin to appear off Maui’s coasts in autumn, with their numbers increasing through November and December.”
Most first sightings of the season in Maui take place in October. Last year, the first humpback whale was spotted on October 5 by PWF’s Ocean Voyager during a Molokini snorkel cruise. Here are the dates for previous first sightings:
October 5, 2013
October 15, 2012
October 6, 2011
Humpback whales migrate to Hawai’i from their summer feeding area that extends from Northern California to the Bering Sea. They come to Maui’s warm, relatively shallow waters to mate, give birth, and care for their young.