Mystery absence of humpback whales in Hawaii
More than 10,000 humpback whales make the winter journey from Alaska to the warm waters off Hawaii, traveling in groups of three or four, to mate and give birth among larger pods. The season for humpbacks usually runs from November through May, as whales swim along the archipelago. The first whale of the season was spotted on 29 September by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel.
Humpback whales have been slow to return to Hawaii as December usually marks the start of the season, experts say. “This isn’t a concern, but it’s of interest. One theory was that something like this happened as whales increased. It’s a product of their success,” said Ed Lyman, a Maui-based marine biologist and response coordinator for the sanctuary. “What I’m seeing out there right now I would have expected a month ago,” said Lyman, who was surprised by how few of the animals he saw while responding to a call about a distressed calf on Christmas Eve. “We’ve just seen a handful of whales.” It will be a while before officials have hard numbers because the annual whale counts don’t take place until the last Saturday of January, February and March, according to former sanctuary co-manager Jeff Walters. “They don’t necessarily show up in the same place at the same time every year,” Walters said. The plankton-eating animals are protected as an endangered species, and federal law prohibits approaching within 100 yards of them by boat. Fewer than 10% of humpbacks’ original population remains, according to the California-based Marine Mammal Center.
Article Category - Whale News; Tags - Whale Migration
Meta Description - Mystery absence of humpback whales. Giant whales, spend from November through May in the area, are a well-known part of winter but have been slow to return.
Mystery absence of humpback whales