KAILUA-KONA — It’s early in the season, but residents are reporting humpback whale sightings off Hawaii Island.
Ma’ata Tukuafu and Alapati Jeter told West Hawaii Today they observed four whale spouts and three flukes around 11 a.m. Oct. 10 about a quarter mile off shore in front of Kohala Estates.
“They looked to be humpbacks to us,” they wrote in an email.
Christopher Thomason on Tuesday was working at Kahaluu Bay Surf and Sea when he spotted a whale breaching at 12:05 p.m. close to shore outside the wall in the center of Kahaluu Bay, he told West Hawaii Today.
No calves were around, he said, so he surmised the adult humpback to be a male but not full grown, at least 30 feet long.
“He sounded twice in quick secession then stayed under for over 20 minutes, slowly headed north toward Laaloa,” Thomason wrote in an email.
It’s the earliest shoreline siting he has ever heard of for Kona, he said.
“We could barely believe our eyes!” he wrote.
The Central North Pacific stock of humpback whales that migrates from Alaska to Hawaii’s warmer waters to mate, calve and nurse their young has been estimated at roughly 10,000 individuals.
The massive marine mammals, which can grow to 60 feet in length and weigh 40 tons, arrive as early as October and stay as late as May, with peak activity occurring from January to March.
Last week, one was spotted off the coast of Kauai, according to reports.
A dip in the number of whale sightings started in 2015 and lasted through 2018 but a strong presence in early 2019 has some researchers hopeful for a rebound in the number of sightings this season.