HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -Humpback whale season is here, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to remind the public to keep a safe distance.
NOAA estimates that as many as 12,000 humpback whales migrate from their feeding grounds off Alaska to the warm waters of Hawaii.
Some whales have already arrived, but a majority will migrate between January and March.
It’s illegal to approach a humpback whale within 100 yards in the water, or within 1,000 feet by air.
“Collisions between whales and vessels occur annually, presenting serious risks to boaters as well as the whales,” said Edward Lyman, large whale entanglement response coordinator for NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “Whale calves are particularly vulnerable because they are difficult to see and surface more often.”
Their warning comes as researchers seek more clues on the significant decline in the number of sightings of humpback whales in the Pacific. Some believe there’s a link between warmer ocean temperatures and the effect it has on their food chain.