Monday, November 16, 2009

This Week in Nature: The 3rd week in November - Humpback Whales

What's Happening in Hawaii 
during the 3rd week in November:
Humpback whales are now beginning to arrive for their annual, five-month stay in island waters. Humpbacks come to calve, and preferring warm, sheltered water for this purpose, they can often be seen from shore. Arrivals can increase in December and January, with the peak population being reached in February, when much of the calving occurs. 

At least a few humpbacks winter near each of the main islands, but they can be found in greatest numbers in the enclosed waters off Maui's southern flank and over a shallow bank west of Moloka'i.

Of the several hundred adults present, perhaps 30 will bear calves, and some will also mate before setting out in April or May for their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific. Humpbacks are known for underwater song, and their music evolves while they are here. New themes are started and old ones dropped, so that they leave with a different song than they brought. 

To see a video of singing whales, visit the Whale Humpback Whale Song site. This site also answers many frequently asked questions about whale songs.

Visit the Discovery Channel webpage to hear Humpback whale songs as well as noises from other interesting creatures. (You may need Quicktime, RealPlayer or Windows Media player to access these audio files. DOFAW is not affiliated with Whale Trust or the Discovery Channel.)

Want to learn more about the Humpback's migration? Visit the NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary site to play a fun migration game.

If you'd like to volunteer your time and join others to watch and count whales this winter, visit the NOAA Humpback Whale Sanctuary Ocean Count Volunteer page.

Natural history info and image taken from "Hawaii: A Calendar of Natural Events," 
published by the Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools in 1989.

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