Posted by: The ocean update | January 3, 2016

Hawaii’s humpback whales missing in 2016 : are Alaska’s whale deaths related (USA) ?

Friday, June 19 is the deadline for public comment on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that seeks to expand the size and focus of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. (Credit : NOAA)

Credit : NOAA

January 3rd, 2016 (Patrick Frye). Hawaii’s humpback whales are missing in large numbers based upon early 2016 reports. Normally, beginning in early November, around 10,000 humpback whales travel from Alaska to Hawaii in order spend the winter in the warmer waters off the Hawaian islands. But, so far, officials at the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary say they have not been seeing the usual number of humpback whale sightings, making it a mystery to be solved. While it’s possible the El Nino weather patterns are a factor, earlier in the fall of 2015 other researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noticed an alarming number of whale deaths near Alaska.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, Japan announced plans to resume whaling, and over the next 12 years they intend on butchering 4,000 minke whales in the Antarctic, although 333 of the whales will be killed for research.

Brian Powers is an aerial photographer who has spent years capturing photos of Hawaii’s humpback whales from the air. According to West Hawaii Today, he says he has not had a single whale sighting in either 2015 or 2016, which he considers very unusual for this time of year.

“I’ve been looking for the last month and have not seen one,” he said. “This time of year, cars are usually lined up on the edge of the Akoni Pule Highway as whale watchers gather roadside and on hills to take in the nearshore displays of pec slapping, blows and the giant, lunging breaches of aggressive and amorous males.

At the same time, Hawaii Ocean Sports reports seeing some humpback whales in Hawaii’s waters, but there have been excursions with no whales at all. When speaking to the Associated Press, Ed Lyman of the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary said that Hawaii’s humpback whales are missing their usual numbers. There are multiple theories for why they are so noticeably delayed, including the warmer water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean caused by El Nino, but it’s possible the whales themselves are responsible for the delays.

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