The following is a transcript for the video article above.
Its humpback whale season in Hawaiʻi.
Humpack whale season runs from mid-December until mid-May, with the peak being January through March. According to the University of Hawaiʻi, between 8,000 and 12,000 of the North Pacific humpback whale stock visits the shallow waters of the Hawaiian Islands seasonally to breed.
With the whale season comes new scientific understanding. The University of Hawaiʻi has been a global leader in marine mammal research since the 1970s.
One year ago, the university’s Marine Mammal Research Program captured amazing video of humpback whale bubble-net feeding, filmed in the waters off of Southeast Alaska during their summer feeding period.
LARS BEJDER, Director, UH Mānoa Marine Mammal Research Program: “The footage is rather groundbreaking. We’re observing how these animals are manipulating their prey and preparing the prey for capture. So it is allowing us to gain new insights that really haven’t been able to do before.”
It’s one component of a project investigating causes of a possible decline in humpback whale numbers. When the whales leave their foraging grounds and migrate 3,000 miles to Hawaiʻi, they stop eating until their return several months later.
In April, the university captured more rare video. Researchers recorded footage of whale nursing behavior in the Maui breeding grounds. Scientists say the video and other data, provides insights into the needs of humpback mothers and calves in Hawaiʻi.
BEJDER: “… it’s quite unique and rare footage that we’re obtaining, which is allowing us to quantify these nursing and suckling bouts that’s so important. What we are trying to understand with these new technologies is how much time the calves need to nurse from their moms to be able to get strong and big enough to make their journey back up north.”
This past Friday, UH presented another study, showing how humpback whale songs provide insight to population changes.
As the university notes, the dominant source of ambient underwater sound off Hawaiʻi between December and April is the song of mature males.
Researchers examined long-term song recordings captured at six sites off Maui.
The scientists say they saw a continuous decrease in overall chorusing levels during the peak months.
The findings, published in Endangered Species Research journal, also revealed a shift in the seasonal pattern, with peaks shifting from late February / early March to early- and mid-February. Overall, chorusing levels were not only significantly lower during the peak of the season. Researchers said whales also appeared to depart the islands earlier than in the past.
As of December 15, humpback whale season in Hawaiʻi is underway, and boaters are being asked to be on the look out for mother whales and their calves.
Ed Lyman, the natural resource specialist for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, says collisions between whales and vessels occur annually. It presents a serious risks to boaters as well as the whales. Keep in mind, federal rules prohibit mariners and swimmers from approaching whales within 100 yards on the water.
Humpback calves are particularly vulnerable because they surface more often and are difficult to see.
Whales can also become entangled in fishing debris. If you see an injured or entangled marine mammal, keep a safe distance and call NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding and Entanglement Hotline at 888-256-9840.
These magnificent marine mammals will be in Hawaiian waters through March.