A humpback whale was spotted off Maui on Thursday, in the first official sighting of the season.
The sighting appeared to be of a single adult about 3.7 miles off Lahaina, the Pacific Whale Foundation said.
Last year, humpback whales were slow to arrive to Hawaii waters -- and fewer of the animals made the journey to Hawaiian waters.
Every year, thousands of humpback whales use Hawaiian waters as their principle “wintering ground,” migrating here to mate, calve and nurse their young.
The population of North Pacific humpback whales is now estimated at 21,000, up from about 6,000 in the 1990s.
During the 2015-16 season, the total number of whales that made the journey seemed to be at its lowest level in five years.
Whale season in Hawaii is November to May, with a peak in February and March.
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