Subject: Re: Hawaii whales and El Nino

Jen Philips (
Mon, 8 Dec 1997 14:10:42 -1000 (HST)

On Sun, 7 Dec 1997, MSB14 wrote:

> Hello, my name is Mark and I have a somewhat trivial question. My wife and I
> are planning a trip to the islands in March and it occured to me that El Nino
> might be affecting the whale migration patterns due to increased water
> temperatures and increased storm activity. Is there any truth to this? I
> realize that it is still fairly early in the season, but since you are there,
> you would probably have a good feel for the situation. 
>      Also, (pushing my luck here) is there any website that gives a current
> status of the whale watching in the Islands?
>      Any reply would be greatly appreciated and I thank you in advance for
> taking the time to read this. 
>                                       Freezing in Detroit,
>                                       Mark Bilicki

Mark -

You are targetting a problem that many people are talking about right now,
but the truth is I have not heard any predictions of El Nino's effect on
the migrating humpbacks.  Actually, weather predictions for Hawaii are
saying that El Nino will most likely not hit Hawaii as hard as it
is expected to hit others areas, such as Southern California, Baja, and of
course all the way down to Peru and Chile.  So, for Hawaii at least, the
migration isn't expected to be affected.  The truth is that when humpbacks
migrate to Hawaii, they are not feeding.  They come here to be in warmer,
calmer waters, to give birth and mate again.  They then go back up to
Alaska to feed for the remainder of the months in the year.
So, if El Nino wants to warm up the waters a little more, then so much the
better, at least theoretically.  But you're right about the storms.  If
heavy, torrential storms hit an area where humbacks are giving birth, it
could effect their young calves.  This, however is mostly unpredictable,
probably by the whales as well as us.  So, if you come to Hawaii, I would
say that you'll have no problem seeing the whales.  The best place to see
them is in the waters between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, where the water is
shallow and calm.  As for a good up to date web page on the whale watching
here, I would suggest that you try the Pacific Whale Foundation site at  If the information isn't readily available
on the page, I'm sure there is an email address that you may request
information through.  Good luck, and have a wonderful trip in our

Aloha -

Jen Philips

Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program - HIMB		(808) 236-4001
University of Hawaii, Manoa          
Honolulu, HI  96822	      "First, there were some amoebas. Deviant
			       amoebas adapted better to the environment,
			       thus becoming monkeys..."       - S.Adams