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Posted: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 8:53 AM HST

Early humpback could mean tourism bump

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) A humpback whale spotted in Hawaiian waters more than three months ahead of schedule for the mammals' annual winter migration could mean more tourism dollars for the state.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the state's tourism industry is already on pace to break records for visitor arrivals and spending this year. And Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary official Justin Viezbicke says the whales "help business here in Hawaii, for sure."

As word spread of Hawaii's first humpback visitor of the season, customers began booking Wild Hawai'i Ocean Adventures to get their chance at their own sighting.

The apparently healthy 40- to 45-foot long juvenile humpback was spotted Thursday morning north of Kailua-Kona.

Viezbicke says federal scientists have no theories on why the whale showed up so early.

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