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Humpback whale seen cruising in Hanama‘ulu Bay

AHUKINI — People reported sightings of a humpback whale in Hanamaulu Bay Tuesday.

“People started calling, early and for a couple of hours,” said Jean Souza, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Kaua‘i programs coordinator. “Jaime Thornton of the NOAA Fisheries said he saw it Tuesday morning, and it appeared to be leaving the bay.”

But the whale changed its mind and stuck around, demonstrating the sailing behavior that earned it its name of “the sailing whale.” The behavior appears as if the whale is using its fluke as a sail, possibly allowing the wind to push it along.

Souza said it appears to be the same whale that was reported off Port Allen in late February. There have been numerous other reports of sightings from different points around Kaua‘i, indicating that it is circling the island, Souza said.

“We’ve had reports of sightings off Napali, the Makahu‘ena Point in Po‘ipu and Port Allen,” said Thornton. “It came in to about 30 meters off the pier, and we did check it out. It is healthy, has no signs of entanglement or any diseases, and is just content to hang around the island. The sailing behavior is not abnormal. There are lots of sightings on Maui.”

For now, officials are just keeping an eye on the young adult whale and ensuring that people give it its due distance.

This is a demonstration of the shorelined-based whale-watching activity the Sanctuary Ocean Count site leaders keep track of and collect data on. The only difference is the final Sanctuary Ocean Count does not take place until March 29, Ahukini being one of the count sites.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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