Zoe Dym for Hawaii Public Radio on this year’s increase in humpback whale sightings. November is the beginning of the whale season in Hawaii. Humpback whales are generally seen in Hawaii from November to May each year with the peak time around January to March. Join us for a snorkel or manta ray tour and you may be lucky enough to see a humpback in the pristine waters off the shores of Kona.
The 2022 humpback whale count for Hawaiʻi waters shows a big increase in their numbers. Humpback whale sightings are tallied every year to understand population trends and behavior.
Volunteers from two different marine organizations counted the number of humpback whale sightings from January through March. Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary monitored whale counts on Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, and Hawaiʻi Island, while the Pacific Whale Foundation organized whale counts on Maui.
In January of last year, the highest number of humpback whales counted in a 15-minute interval was 177 whales. This year, that number rose to 278 — a 57% increase.
The highest count of humpback whales in February 2021 was 83. That number increased by 63% this year to 135.
The highest count of humpback whales in March 2021 was 118. That number increased by 15% this year to 136.