Winter time in the Hawaiian islands comes with seasonal changes like most places in the world. Only in Hawaii, instead of snow, cold weather, and darker skies, winter brings the blossoming of poinsettia, big waves, and the migration of up to 12,000 humpback whales breaching, splashing, spouting, and playing. Each year after eating their fill and fattening up near Alaska and other cold ocean areas, Hawaiian humpbacks come home to their birthplace between November to May.
No one knows for sure why humpback whales breach. Observing their behavior and studying reasons have netted some possibilities. Some think it is to teach their babies to help them build strength, to splash bacteria off their bodies, to communicate, or to just plane have fun.
A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae, “Great wings of New England”) is as big as a school bus, weigh 40 to 50 tons, and are estimated to live 40 to 50 years. When a humpback breathes out, making its distinctive water spout, it can exhale as much air as fills a VW Beetle.
During a January 2012 Ocean Count their were an average of 2 to 8 whales sighted every 15-minutes (Hawai‘i Island – 3 whales/15 min, Kaua‘i – 8 whales/15 min, O‘ahu – 2 whales/15 min). If you’re looking for great places to view whales from the shoreline in Hawaii the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary has a good listing.