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Humpback whale sightings decreased by almost 40%

Richard Fisher / Flickr
Richard Fisher / Flickr

The 2023 whale season has come to an end. Humpback whales will return to Hawaiʻi next fall to breed, birth and nurse their young.

However, whale sighting season gathered over 300 volunteers this year to the shores of Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the Pacific Whale Foundation coordinate the research to understand population trends. This is the first year since the pandemic that both programs resumed normal operations.

Over 2,700 humpback whales were found throughout the Hawaiian Islands throughout the entirety of this year's season.

Whale count tallies are organized in 15-minute intervals.

However, the number of whales sighted during peak time periods decreased by 38% compared to last year.

In 2022, whale watchers found between 136 and 278 whales throughout the main Hawaiian Islands during peak 15-minute intervals in January, February and March, respectively.

This year that number decreased to 169 in January, 147 in February, and 83 in March.

The nonprofits did not offer a reason as to why there were fewer whales sighted this year, but the whale-watching event is set to occur again next season — starting in January.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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