Humpback whales make their migration to the warm waters of Hawaii each year from mid December up until mid May. The reason they leave their homes in the Pacific Northwest is to mate with other humpbacks and to give birth.
Humpback whales mate and give birth in the same season? Sometimes, but most often they come to mate then return the following year to give birth. The gestation period of a Humpback Whale is 12 months, which forms a perfect cycle.
Why Hawaii? Humpbacks travel to Hawaii as well as south of North America for the warm, protected waters. Hawaii, and specifically Maui, offers shallower areas to perform their mating habits as well as give birth away from deep ocean predators.
If Hawaii is ideal for mating and giving birth, why don’t Humpback Whales live there year round? They have to make this long trek, back and forth, every year because plankton (Humpback’s primary food source) doesn’t thrive in warm waters. Each year, Humpbacks feed and store fat while living in the Pacific Northwest. They then make the journey and the stay in Hawaii without any food. This is particularly hard on the mothers nursing over 100 gallons of milk to their calves each day.
For more humpback whale information, including recognizing surface behavior, migration, and birth, visit Whale Information.