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First humpback whales of season are spotted off Kauai, Niihau

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BRUCE ASATO
One of several humpback whales in the ocean off Diamond Head, this on was seen breaching. "Humpback whales visit Hawaiian waters each year from November to May with the peak of the season being from January to March (from The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary website)."

A couple of humpback whales have arrived early to the Hawaiian Islands this humpback whale season, which generally runs November through May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today.

Researchers on the NOAA ship Hiialakai, heading home from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, spotted the first humpback whale of the season off Niihau on Sept. 29.

The second was spotted a few days later off Kauai’s southwest coast near the Pacific Missile Range Facility by Capt. Sterling Silva aboard the Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures. 

Ed Lyman, marine mammal response manager for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said it’s hard to know whether these whales may have stayed behind, but it could have happened. 

However, “we’re in the ballpark,” he said. “This in the general time frame.” 

Whales have come to Hawaii from Alaska as early as Aug. 30, although they are few and far between.

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