Hawaiians wonder, where are the whales? A humpback whale leaps out of the water in the channel off the town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon/J. Scott Applewhite, file)
Hawaiians wonder, where are the whales?
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December usually marks the start of humpback whale season in Hawaii, but experts say the animals have been slow to return.
 
The giant whales are an iconic part of winter on the islands and a source of income for tour operators. But officials at the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary said they've been getting reports that the whales have been difficult to spot so far.
 
"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 resource protection manager 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.
 
More than 10,000 humpback whales make the winter journey from Alaska to the warm waters off Hawaii to mate and give birth.
 
Lyman said the whales' absence could just mean they're spending more time feeding in northern waters, possibly because of El Nino disruptions or because their population has gone up.
 
"With more animals, they're competing against each other for that food resource, and it takes an energy of reserve to make that long migration over 2,000 miles," he explained.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What is the impact of late-arriving whales?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (45)
  • briannec-ste
    1/07/2016 - 07:36 p.m.

    The late arriving whales could also be from them not only competing for food but not getting enough food and dying. there could be less of them this year.

  • laneh-pay
    1/11/2016 - 10:34 a.m.

    This is grate my baby cousin should like this

  • lillyw-1-glo
    1/11/2016 - 05:10 p.m.

    Critical thinking question: The impact of the late-arriving whales is that tour companies could lose money if people don't go on "Whale Watching" trips. This could also impact the ecosystem in Hawaii, and that fish and other water animals that whales normally eat will become more common and populated. This could positively impact grocery stores selling more fish and fishing companies.
    I think that it is terrible that the whales haven't migrated back to Hawaii yet. If it suddenly becomes to cold in Alaska, it could be dangerous to the whales.

  • ryanp-1-glo
    1/11/2016 - 05:28 p.m.

    The impact of late arriving whales is that the sales in tours of the island's coast will go down and the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary will be insufficient due to the decrease in the whale population at Hawaii.

  • mennaj-2-glo
    1/11/2016 - 06:15 p.m.

    The impact of the late-arriving whales is loss of money for tour operators who are depending on the whales. The whales being late could mean that there wasn't enough food for them in Alaska and they didn't have the energy to make it all the way to Hawaii, which could be a problem.

  • mikaylam-1-glo
    1/11/2016 - 08:57 p.m.

    I think that the impact for the late-arriving whales is El NiƱo, something they already mentioned in the article, because of the drastic change in the weather patterns effecting everything everywhere. I don't think that the whales are troubled because of the weather but that, out of instinct, are staying to the waters they know best to be safer out of cautiousness.

  • skylarm-2-glo
    1/12/2016 - 12:42 p.m.

    Due to the late arrival of the whales to Hawaii the tours will not be as interesting being that they won't see said whales and the tour guides have nothing to show. Also that the whale population is increasing so they may be staying in safer weather climates away from El Nino. Another impact is that the migration may have not gone well since they are now competing against other whale pods for food, shelter, and other resources being that it is a 2,000 mile journey they must endure.

  • lucib-bag
    1/12/2016 - 10:18 p.m.

    The whales' arrive in Hawaii in the winter. Sadly the number is very low this year. This is bad because it is effecting the income of operators. We can hope that all the whales' come back to mate.

  • denisser-glo
    1/14/2016 - 09:53 p.m.

    The impact that late-arriving whales make is the decrease of income for tour operators since these giants whales are an iconic part of winter in Hawaii and tourists would like to see them.

  • treya-bag
    1/14/2016 - 11:10 p.m.

    The impact is that tourists can't have any tours until the whales come along.

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