Thousands of humpback whales missing from Hawaiian waters

Thousands Of Humpback Whales Missing From Hawaiian Waters

Every year around this time, thousands of humpback whales arrive in Hawaiian waters, spurring a frenzy of related activities by tourists and locals alike.

According to Ed Lyman from Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whales National Marine Sanctuary, this time around, only a relative handful have gotten there on schedule.

Experts are not entirely sure why the remainder are experiencing delays, but do have a couple of theories.

One is that El Niño has affected water temperatures, food availability, and migration patterns.

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Thousands of humpback whales missing from Hawaiian waters
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: A Humpback whale in mid lunge, feeding on Bunker off NYC's Rockaway Beach on September 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Artie Raslich/Getty Images)
SEA OF CORTEZ, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO - 2015/02/20: Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) slapping the pectoral fin on the water in the Bahia de La Paz, Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Humpback mother and calf.Baja Coast MexicoThe 2 whales were swimming along the Baja coast of Mexico, in the Pacific Ocean just outside Cabo
Humpback whale calf with mother shot in Vava'u Tonga in clear water. Sun is sparkling on the whales back.
Pod of humpback whales Maui, Hawaii at sunset.
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USA, Alaska, Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaengliae) sending up plumes of mist while group feeding in Chatham Strait on summer evening
(photo: Pat Hawks/Flickr)

The majority of the traveling humpback whales may be spending a bit more time north of their usual destination.

The other theory also involves food resources, but focuses on a possible lack of them.

Humpback whale populations are believed to be booming, and while that is welcome news, it also means there is more competition for resources.

In that scenario, the animals taking the more than 2,000 mile trek from the waters west of Alaska and Canada may be running behind schedule as finding nourishment is taking longer than usual.

Either way, there are uncertainties about how the delay will affect the duration of the whales' stay once they do arrive.

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