Migration of Humpback
Whales to Hawaii
From Alaska to Hawaii
Most North Pacific humpback whales begin their annual migrations from the Gulf of Alaska in early fall.
What results is an exodus to three primary locations in the southern
latitudes of the North Pacific. One group will travel to the coast of Baja in Mexico.
Another will migrate to a group of islands south east of Japan. But the largest population
(over 60%) will find themselves in the Hawaiian Islands, a distance of nearly 3500 miles
from their feeding grounds in Alaska. This migration takes the humpback approximately 4 to 8 weeks
The majority of the humpbacks that travel to Hawaii end up in the
waters off Maui. It is a "trickle migration with the juveniles usually arriving first, followed by the adult males, adult females, then the pregnant
This whale propels itself straight out of the water
in a full breach. This behavior is among the most exciting to witness
from a whale watch
Why Leave Maui?
The long summer days in Alaska provide plenty of hours of sunshine for
photosynthesis. Which is why Alaskan waters are so green.
Small schooling fish and krill (a small shrimp like crustacean) depend on
this plant life as their food source. An adult humpback can eat over 2000
pounds of krill in a single day.
Because of Hawaii's location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the
water is relatively nutrient free (which is why our waters are so clear &
blue) and too warm to support enough of the humpback's food to sustain them
year round. They must migrate back to colder water to feed and rebuild their
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