Spearfisherman Oahu Ryan’s Remarkable Encounter with Hawaii’s First Humpback Whale of the Season

Hawaii’s first humpback whale sighting of the season occurred off the shores of East Oahu, leaving spearfisherman Oahu Ryan in awe. Known for his underwater videography and numerous adventures, Ryan experienced an extraordinary encounter when a humpback whale swam directly over him during a dive.

Initially mistaking the whale for a submarine due to its stillness, Ryan was astonished by the unexpected encounter.

Experts from NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary confirmed that the creature Ryan saw was indeed a humpback whale. This sighting is particularly significant because no other humpback whales have been reported in the area this year.

According to Eden Zang, a coordinator at the Pacific Islands Region Sanctuary, it’s unclear whether this whale arrived early, lingered since the last season, or missed the migration altogether.

Spearfisherman Oahu Ryan's Remarkable Encounter with Hawaii's First Humpback Whale of the Season
Spearfisherman Oahu Ryan’s Remarkable Encounter with Hawaii’s First Humpback Whale of the Season

Typically, humpback whales visit Hawaii from December to May for breeding and calving, then migrate to Alaska for feeding. Spotting a humpback in July is unusual, and while Ryan has frequently dived during peak whale season, he had never encountered one in such a brief dive until now. Despite the rare sighting, the whale is not expected to remain in Hawaii for long due to insufficient food sources.

Researchers have limited information on the whale’s age, health, or reasons for its presence. Observations suggest it might be a recent arrival, as it lacks barnacles, which tend to fall off in warm Hawaiian waters over time. NOAA guidelines mandate that people keep a 100-yard distance from humpback whales, but in this case, Ryan’s encounter was purely coincidental and permissible under the circumstances.

Oahu Ryan reflected on the encounter with wonder, describing the moment when the whale looked at him before swimming away. He considers the experience an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime event, emphasizing the profound impact it had on him.

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