KE‘E — Tuesday started out as just another day on the water for Holo Holo Charter captains Aaron Pearlman and Casey Heaton, but they got quite a surprise when they reached the waters offshore of Ke‘e Beach.
Pearlman was acting as the lead captain that day with Heaton as his first mate aboard the boat Adventurer II. They had 24 passengers on board and left from Hanalei Bay. It was near the beginning of the tour, right as they were getting to the Napali Coast’s sheer cliffs, when a humpback whale shot out of the water about a mile offshore.
“No doubt about it, it was an adolescent humpback whale,” Pearlman said Tuesday, after the sighting. “It breached three or four times.”
Those aboard Adventurer II weren’t the only ones to see the whale, either. Also nearby was the Sea Breeze with Captain Pepe operating out of Anini.
“We saw it first,” Pearlman was sure to point out.
Officials with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say it could very well be the first sighting of the season, and though it’s just a bit early, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see a humpback in Hawaii on Oct. 1.
“Humpback whale season in Hawaii generally runs from November through May, although whales may be encountered in limited numbers during other months,” NOAA officials said in a press release Tuesday.
Humpback whales migrate to the Hawaiian Islands for breeding in the winter months and are commonly sighted from November through March, with peak season being January through March. Summer months are spent feeding in more northern waters, like around Alaska.
Pearlman and Heaton were busy with the boat and didn’t get a photo of the adolescent whale, but they said they heard confirmation that their passengers saw it too.
“Most of them were able to observe (it),” Pearlman said. “They were bragging that they saw a whale, and I made it a big deal. I got excited.”
With the arrival of humpback whale season in Hawaii, ocean users are reminded to keep a safe distance from these annual visitors to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
Boaters are reminded to post a lookout at all times throughout the year, not just when whales are visiting our waters.
Federal regulations prohibit approaching within 100 yards of whales when on the water, and 1,000 feet when operating an aircraft.
Boaters and ocean users who see a humpback whale are encouraged to report it, according to Ed Lyman Natural Resources Specialist for the sanctuary.
“By locating distressed animals, reporting and providing the initial documentation and assessment on the animal, ocean users are the foundation of our conservation efforts,” Lyman said.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org