During the right time of year on Maui--between December and April--you can see whales breaching and blowing just offshore. The humpback whales' attraction to Maui is legendary. More than half the North Pacific's humpback population winters in Hawaii , as they've been doing for years. At one time, thousands of the huge mammals existed, but the world population has dwindled to about 1,500. In 1966, they were put on the endangered-species list, which restricts boats and airplanes from getting too close.
Experts believe the humpbacks keep returning to Hawaiian waters because of the warmth. Winter is calving time for the behemoths, and the whale babies born with little blubber, probably couldn't survive in the frigid Alaskan waters. No one has ever seen a whale give birth, but the experts studying whales off Maui know that calving is their main winter activity, since the one- and two-ton babies suddenly appear while the whales are in residence.