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As humpback whale season nears peak in Hawaii, animals face growing number of threats

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – February is often the peak of humpback whale season throughout Hawaiian waters and a large crowd swims to the state.

That means this time of yr can also be a busy interval for NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary crew.

“We estimate it’s somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 (whales) or so come to the Hawaiian islands each year,” mentioned Marc Lammers, a analysis ecologist with the crew.

“Any given moment though, it’s probably less than that because humpback whales kind of come and go over the course of the season.”

Each yr, the large mammals face a number of threats reminiscent of ship strikes and marine particles, which may result in entanglement.

Ed Lyman, who has helped shield Hawaii’s humpbacks during the last 30 years, retains monitor.

“I think it’s over 15,000 feet of measurable line we’ve gotten off whales,” Lyman mentioned. “So those are really good numbers.”

The crew’s newest rescue got here this previous Monday in waters off Maui involving a mom whale and her calf. Crews spent six hours releasing the mother from 550-feet of line, which was wrapped round her head and physique.

“We were very methodical, very patient,” Lyman defined. “We didn’t want to stress her out anymore. We kind of tried to let her know what we were up to as much as we could and kind of bided our time until that opportunity arose where she came up close enough to the boat.”

Over the years, NOAA’s crew has observed altering threats reminiscent of local weather change and elevated air pollution, which underscores the significance of figuring out that each set of misplaced line may very well be deadly.

“Local fishing gear is becoming more of an issue, particularly when people put out moorings that technically are illegal,” Lammers mentioned.

“So the whales sometimes get wrapped up in those, particularly younger whales. They’re very curious and sometimes they may start to play with some of the gear or the floats.”

Those who spot any marine wildlife in misery are suggested to contact NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9840.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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