Humpback whales make a splash in Honolulu Harbor

Humpback whales make a splash in Honolulu Harbor
Updated: Feb. 22, 2017 at 5:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A couple of humpback whales made quite a splash when they swam into Honolulu Harbor on Wednesday.

Passengers on the Star of Honolulu enjoyed a spectacular show during their morning cruise.

"We were going out in the harbor and we saw them before we ever got out, and they were splashing around and very active," said Shea Sutherland, a visitor from Tennessee.

One of the animals appeared to be a juvenile humpback.

"We think the whale was just curious and just went into that area. If it was a whale that was having some type of behavioral or medical problem, we would potentially try to herd the whale or use some underwater acoustics," said David Schofield, regional marine mammal response program coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

All the action attracted the attention of those working near the waterfront at Aloha Tower Marketplace.

"This morning, when I came to Gordon Biersch, I looked out, I saw some splashing in the harbor," said bartender Kevin Thompson.

An alert was sent out to mariners to avoid the area. No vessel strikes have been reported so far this season, according to NOAA.

"Luckily, there was not a lot of vessel traffic at the time this was reported, so there was not any concern for a vessel strike," said Schofield. "But when you have a whale inside a harbor and you have a lot of boat traffic, you can anticipate there would be concern."

Passengers on the cruise say they also saw several other humpbacks right outside the harbor entrance.

"They were putting on a show. The tail smacking, breaching," said Wahiawa resident Elizabeth Tritapoe.

The two whales in the harbor eventually swam out on their own. Schofield says humpbacks venture into the harbor every three years or so. In 2012, two humpbacks created quite a stir, hanging around for several hours. This latest visit didn't last as long, but the animals still left a lasting impression.

"As we were coming in, they were actually heading out. They probably figured out they weren't supposed to be there," Tritapoe said.

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