WAILUKU >> The number of whales getting tangled up in fishing gear in Hawaii waters has been on the decline.
No whale entanglements have been reported almost four months into the 2016-17 whale season. Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said that’s the longest they’ve gone without one.
Last season the first confirmed entanglement was in December 2015. There were six entanglements during the 2015-16 season and 13 the year before, The Maui News reported Wednesday (bit.ly/2kATHRS).
While Hawaii has yet to discover a whale tangled in debris, Alaska has confirmed two whale entanglements this season, Lyman said.
The number of collisions between whales and boats also appears to be declining in Hawaii. There were two boat strikes last season, compared with five during the 2014-15 season. There has been only one boat strike reported so far this season.
In September federal authorities took most humpback whales off the endangered species list, saying their numbers have recovered through international efforts to protect the giant mammals.
An estimated 11,000 humpback whales breed in Hawaii waters each winter and migrate to Alaska to feed during the summer, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.