The first humpback whale of the season was spotted off Maui Monday morning.
It was swimming roughly two and a half miles north of Molokini, and captured on video by the captain of the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ocean Explorer during a snorkel tour.
As many as 12,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaii between November and May to give birth and care for their young, which makes Monday’s whale an early one.
The peak of the season runs from January to March, which is when the Sanctuary Ocean Count takes place.
While they are a sight to see, humpback whales are protected by federal and state regulations.
All ocean users must stay at least 100 yards from the animals.
If a whale approaches within 100 yards, boaters must stop immediately and leave engines in neutral until the whale moves away.