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  • John J King II

Hawaii Journal: Ocean Biodiversity and Humpback Whales

Every year more than 2,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian waters. A population of up to 600 inhabits the waters off Big Island's western coast.

Humpbacks come to Hawaii for two reasons: to mate and to give birth. Most Hawaiian humpbacks travel 3000 miles from Alaska where they spend their summers, but whales in Hawaii have been recorded traveling all over the Pacific, coming from as far away as South America and Russia. Adults can attain lengths of up to 60 feet, but most humpbacks max out at around 45 feet. At birth the calf weighs only about a ton (mom weighs up to 50 tons), but it comes out already measuring nearly 15 feet in length. After watching diligently from the shore for more than week from several locations and witnessing the telltale signs of mother and calf pairs interacting from time to time we finally got the chance to get out on a boat and see these magnificent creatures close up. This youngster was barely a week or two old and was learning to breathe and dive along side its mother. It treated us to a couple of "baby breaches".

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