Every winter, thousands of humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the warmer waters near the Hawaiian Islands. There, they have sex and give birth before making their return trip north. From December to April, visitors from around the world travel to Hawaii. They go to watch the huge animals in the wild, as they break through the surface of the ocean and rise high into the air.
But since 2014, there has been a reduction in humpback whale sightings in Hawaii. Scientists say the decrease may suggest changes to the food supply. American and international researchers, wildlife experts and federal officials are meeting in Honolulu this week to discuss the drop in humpback sightings.
Data presented at the meetings show a strong connection between warming oceans and the missing whales, said Christine Gabriele. She is a federal wildlife biologist who studies humpbacks at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
Three conditions have warmed the ocean in Alaska since 2014, scientists say. There was a change in an ocean current, a warm “El Nino” period in 2016, and a huge “blob” of warm water in the area.
The current, called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, changes from cool to warm over a period of many years. It changed to warm in 2014.
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