Boat crew spots first humpback whale of the season off Molokini
  • Friday, December 14, 2018
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Boat crew spots first humpback whale of the season off Molokini

  • The first whale of the season was encountered 2.4 miles north of Molokini heading towards Maalaea harbor.
    Video by PWF Captain Aaron Bement
  • COURTESY PACIFIC WHALE FOUNDATION

    The Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui spotted its first humpback whale of the season this morning about 2.4 miles north of Molokini.

  • COURTESY PACIFIC WHALE FOUNDATION

    The Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui spotted its first humpback whale of the season this morning about 2.4 miles north of Molokini.

  • COURTESY PACIFIC WHALE FOUNDATION

    Capt. Aaron Bement of the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ocean Explorer spotted the season’s first humpback whale off Molokini this morning.

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The Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui said it spotted its first humpback whale of the season this morning.

Capt. Aaron Bement of the Ocean Explorer spotted the whale at 8:08 a.m., about 2.4 miles north of Molokini heading toward Maalaea Harbor, the foundation said, and captured footage of the whale on video. The spotting occurred during a Molokini snorkel cruise.

“This is why we do this,” said Bement in a news release. “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.”

Last year’s first whale sighting occurred at 4:44 p.m. Oct. 9 near Honolua Bay, foundation officials said. In previous years, the foundation’s first whale sightings occurred as early as Sept. 16 (2000) and as late as Nov. 11 (2005). Usually, the first sighting in the past decade has been in October, they said.

Thousands of humpback whales, which are protected by state and federal laws, migrate from northern feeding grounds to Hawaii every winter to mate, give birth and care for their young calves. In the past three seasons prior to this season, whale scientists and researchers have noted a decline in whale sightings, as well as sightings of mother-calf pairs.

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