Amid the concerns over global warming and its damaging effects on the ecosystem, there is a worrying development in Hawaii: humpback whales, which usually used to be seen in December, have not shown up yet in the waters off the top tourist destination so far despite it being January.
The giant animal not only is an iconic part of winter on the islands but also a major source of income for tour operators. But officials at the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary say the whales have been slow to return in Hawaii this year even as in the previous years, December used to mark the start of humpback whale season.
Ed Lyman, a Maui-based resource protection manager and response coordinator for the sanctuary, said, "This isn't a concern, but it's of interest. One theory was that something like this happened as whales increased. It's a product of their success".
Taken aback by the development, Lyman said what others were viewing right now, he had observed it a month ago. "We've just seen a handful of whales", he said.
A former sanctuary co-manager, Jeff Walters, however, said the officials should wait till the last Saturday of January, February and even March before making any further assessment on why the whales have not turned up yet.