Captains aboard Holo Holo Charter’s Adventurer II recently spotted what might be the first humpback whale of the season about a mile off Ke‘e Beach on the northwest coast of Kauai.
The whale breached several times, giving the captains enough time to positively identify the animal as a humpback. It was reported to be medium-sized.
Humpback whale season in Hawaii generally runs from November through May, although whales can be encountered in limited numbers during other months.
Thousands of humpback whales return to Hawaii waters each year to breed, give birth and nurse their young.
With the arrival of humpback whale season in Hawaii, ocean users are reminded to keep a safe distance from these annual visitors.
Boaters are reminded to post a lookout at all times throughout the year, not just when whales are visiting Hawaii waters. An extra set of eyes scanning the waters can prevent collisions with marine life, obstructions, divers and other vessels.
Slower speeds also reduce the risk of collisions with the animals.
Humpback whales are protected in Hawaii. Federal regulations prohibit approaching within 100 yards of whales when on the water, and 1,000 feet when operating an aircraft.
These and other regulations apply to all ocean users, including vessel operators, kayakers, paddle-boarders, windsurfers, swimmers and divers throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
If you come across an injured or entangled marine mammal, maintain the required safe distance and call the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Hotline at 1-888-256-9840 immediately, or the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF channel 16.
If reporting a suspected approach zone violation, call the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.
Additional guidelines and safety tips can be found at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.