December is usually the time to spot the majestic creatures in Hawaii, but sightings have been few and far between, according to an Associated Press report.
That's potentially good news from an ecological standpoint, and bad from an economic standpoint, as humpbacks fuel the tour operators on the islands.
It may not be bad news for the species in that it's possible that humpback whales aren't showing up because their numbers have increased. But the bottom line is scientists aren't quite sure where they are.
That's not to say they won't show up. It's still early, and humpbacks don't always show up in the same place at the same time. But experts have noticed a difference so far this year.
Usually this time of year, people will ine up on the highway to look for whales slapping the surface and blowing out water. But those sights aren't as easy to come across now.
It is estimated that a total of 10,000 humpback wahles make the journey from Alaska to Hawaii to mate during the winter.
Their disappearance could have something to do with El Nino. They may be staying up north longer to feed, or because of a rise in population. The humpbacks will compete against each other for food, which takes energy that they need for a 2,000 mile journey.
The rising water temperatures could ultimately prompt changes in how long whales stay in a certain habitat, and this could reflect a long-term trend for such species.