KAUAI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) -Whale season in Hawaii doesn’t officially start for another month, but the first humpback sighting has already been reported.
NOAA officials said Tuesday the captains of a Holo Holo Charter boat heading to Kauai’s Na Pali Coast spotted the whale about a mile off Ke’e Beach on the island’s north side.
The vessel was carrying 24 passengers when the whale breached three to four times, which allowed the captains to properly identify the animal as a humpback whale.
Whale season typically runs from November through May. During that time, humpback whales migrate to Hawaii in search of warmer waters to breed, give birth and nurse their young.
Whale watching becomes a popular activity during those months, however mariners are reminded to keep a safe distance from the mammals.
Whales are federally protected in Hawaii. Federal regulations require at least 100 yards of distance between any vessels on the water and whales, and 1,000 feet when operating an aircraft.
If you come across an injured or entangled marine mammal, you should call the NOAA Marine Mammal Hotline at 1-888-256-9840.