HONOLULU (AP) - A group is pushing to study the humpback whale population amid a season of lower-than-normal sightings.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports (http://bit.ly/1Sf0ZoL) a growing population could be tied to some of the lowest whale sighting counts in five years.
Experts say this season isn't alarming and could be an anomaly.
The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary conducts annual sighting counts in January, February and March alongside volunteers.
Sanctuary official Ed Lyman said a growing population could mean more competition for food, keeping humpback whales in feeding grounds longer.
A population study would scientifically evaluate the data.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants the rebounding North Pacific population removed from the Endangered Species List.
Thousands of humpback whales make the annual winter journey from Alaska to Hawaii waters.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com