Around 11,000 whales annually make the round trip from Alaska to Hawaii.
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Researchers are convening this week to compare clues about a significant decline in the number of sightings of North Pacific humpback whales in their traditional breeding grounds off Hawaii.The apparent disappearance of many whales from a historically predictable location is causing concern and some researchers believe there's a link between warmer ocean temperatures in Alaska and the effect that has on the whales' food chain.The drop in sightings is estimated at 50 percent to 80 percent over the past four years.Around whales 11,000 annually make the 9,700-kilometer round trip.Marc Lammers, research coordinator for the agency's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said different research groups have collected various data sets that all seem to point toward decreased whale sightings.The Maui-based Pacific Whale Foundation, which conducts research alongside its commercial whale watching operation, has also been tracking the decline and reports a clear downward trend of sightings in areas considered among the world's most productive humpback breeding grounds.
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