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The Pacific humpback whale's (Megaptera novaeangliae) habitat is the warm waters of Hawai'i and the cold waters of Alaska. The Pacific humpback whales are the state of Hawaii's official marine mammal and is an endangered species. Humpback whales migrate to Hawaii every year from their summer feeding grounds off Alaska. They can be seen in Hawai'i from late October to early June. Many tourists and students go whale watching during this time of the year.
Hawai'i is the only place in the U.S. where humpbacks reproduce. Scientists estimate that two-thirds of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population (approximately 4000-5000 whales) migrates to Hawaiian waters to engage in breeding, calving and nursing activities. The young calves are often found near the mother.
Humpback whales eat shrimp, small fish, and krill. They grow up to fifty feet in length and can weigh up to forty tons! The humpback whale's age is determined by the size of its earwax which can get up to 3 feet long. Humpbacks are so called because they have a fin on their back just behind the middle of the body which has a ridge or "hump." The humpbacks usually travel in large groups of three to ten called pods.They are known to jump out of the water and return with a giant splash. This process is called breaching.
The Pacific humpback whales is protected by the Federal National Marine Sanctuary Program. Under this Federal Regulations it is unlawful to:
(a) approach by any means, within 100 yards (90 m) of a humpback whale; or
(b) cause a vessel or other object to approach within 100 yards (90 m) of a humpback whale; or
(c) operate any aircraft within 1000 feet (300 m) of any humpback whale; or
(d) disrupt the normal behavior or prior activity of a whale by any other act or omission