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What Species of Whales Can You See During Hawaii Whale Season

an animal swimming in the water

December to April is a special time of the year on Kauai because that’s the official whale watching season. During that time, thousands and thousands of humpbacks migrate from the summer feeding grounds in Alaska.

But, honestly, the first humpbacks are usually sighted at the start of October, with the last few sightings occurring in the initial days of June. Even though it is extremely rare to spot a humpback whale other than the season, you never know what’s causing that splash—especially as the winter approaches.

Even though Hawaii is popular globally for its aerial and affable humpbacks, several other species of rarely-seen whales are seen in Hawaii as well.

Let’s have a look at some of the most popular species of whales that can be sighted during a Kauai whale watching tour:

Humpback Whales

Amid the whale watching season, it isn’t a question of if you’ll see humpbacks—but instead, which ones to you’ll see.

Hawaii is home to the world’s most dense population of North Pacific humpback whales, who make the 6-week journey from Alaska to Hawaii to rest, give birth, and mate.

Some of the most frequently seen moves from humpback whales are spy hops, tail slaps, pec slaps, or breaches. Even though it is not legal to approach within hundred yards (since the humpback whales are heavily protected), there is a slight chance that you might end up “getting mugged” in case the whales swim over for a visit.

Short Finned Pilot Whales

Like sleek, long, black torpedoes navigating their way through the ocean, it is always thrilling to experience pilot whales in Hawaiian waters.

While short-finned pilot whales usually spend most of their time in offshore, deep waters, they are known to randomly explore the waters off the leeward coastline of Maui.

Pilot whales are one of the gigantic members of the dolphin family and are spotted in social gatherings between 25-50 whales.

Dwarf Sperm Whales

They reside in deep water off of Hawaiian coastlines. Dwarf sperm whales are deep-diving whales that are rarely seen above water, though when they are seen, they are typically “logging” or lying near-motionless on the surface.

Pygmy Killer Whales

Pygmy Killer Whales’ sightings are relatively rare. They are one of the world’s least-known whale species.

With that being said, Pygmy Killer Whales’ current population in Hawaii is the best-known grouping in the world.

Although the whales rarely venture into shallow waters, isolated groupings have been spotted and reported off southern Maui’s shoreline.

Blainville and Cuvier’s Beaked Whales

Among all the whales in Hawaii’s waters, two of the most sought-after are the “beaked” whales that inhabit offshore waters.

With a nose that is similar to a bottlenose dolphin’s, Cuvier’s Beaked Whales are the more frequently seen of the beaked whale species in Hawaii.

Handful of sightings occur in Hawaiian Island during the whale watching season, and hence the odds of sighting a beaked whale species in Hawaii is great.

As soon as the whale watching season starts approaching, a significant increase is recorded in the sightings of these rarely-seen whales. Even though humpback whales would probably continue to dominate people’s sightings during their paddling tours, you never know what you might see in the beautiful waters of Hawaii. Book your Hawaii whale watching tour today!

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