Rare sighting: Humpback whale spotted in Kona waters in July
July 12, 2023, 3:06 PM HST
* Updated July 12, 3:10 PM
Andrew Aggergaard, captain of the Hawaiian Adventures Kona catamaran, started getting texts about a humpback whale sighting shortly after leaving Honokohau Small Boat Harbor for a July 12 tour of other kinds of whales.
“My first instinct was no way,” Aggergaard said. “I would’ve expected to run across orca whales sooner than a humpback.”
While Hawai‘i’s waters are home to a variety of whale species year round, including short-fin pilot whales and false killer whales, the more photographed humpback whales are almost never seen in Hawaiian waters this time of year.
The humpback whales usually leave their Hawaiian mating and breeding grounds by April, with a few stragglers a little longer, to migrate north to Alaska and other summer feeding grounds. Most humpback whales do not return until November, although in some years there have been early birds who showed up in October.
Aggergaard had never seen a humpback whale outside of its normal migratory pattern. But when more reports came in of the humpback whale sighting, he decided it was credible enough to go check out.
He was just south of Keauhou Bay when his 40 guests and crew on the 45-foot catamaran spotted the majestic sea creature who was traveling north.
“It’s an incredibly rare sighting,” Aggergaard said. “It’s really hard to say why this whale is here over the summer.”
Aggergaard said he’s seen hundreds, if not thousands, of humpback whales in his life and said the whale spotted Wednesday appeared healthy, and not full-grown, possibly in its teens.
“All we could think of why it was here and did it find a food source,” he said. “It was just incredible and awe-inspiring to see this whale at this time of year.”