At the beach on Kauai yesterday, something was noticeably wrong. It was our beloved humpback whales – they weren’t there. We begin to see them anytime starting in October or November, but while a small number have been seen in Hawaii this season, we have not spotted even one.
Annual humpback whale migration
10,000+ of these behemoths travel to Hawaii from Alaska each winter, typically in groups of three or four, to mate and give birth. Humpbacks are a protected endangered species with fewer than 10% of population remaining.
Missing whale theories abound
One theory is that the humpbacks are traveling south later this year as a result of an increase in their population. They may need to compete for food sources longer in Alaska to prepare for the arduous two thousand mile journey to the Hawaiian Islands. Another theory is that the change is due to this year’s El Nino conditions. And lastly, this phenomena might be somehow related to the humpbacks’ first sighting in twenty years this past fall in Long Island Sound. So it is thought that their migrations could be changing as a result of increasing ocean temperatures.
Annual Hawaii whale count – you can take part
We’ll soon know more when the annual humpback whale count starts. And it isn’t too late for you to become a volunteer. The counts take place across the islands later in January as well as in February and March.
You might also enjoy reading:
- Free Whale Watching in Hawaii. Where to see humpback wales on the Big Island, Kauai, Maui and Oahu.
- Killer Whales Join Burgeoning Humpback Population in Hawaii.