Every fall thousands of gargantuan North Pacific humpback whales journey from their summer feeding grounds in the frigid waters off Alaska to the tropical seas that wash the lush main islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. In these waters, the site of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the whales mate, calve, and nurse their young.
The sanctuary is the only place in the United States where humpbacks reproduce: It is also the best place to hear their haunting underwater singing. Visitors to the sanctuary may see playful young whales practice breaching or adult males lunge furiously at each other as they vie for an available female. The humpbacks share the sanctuarys coral reef-studded habitat with green sea turtles, dolphins, monk seals, sharks, and many species of fish, including the raccoon butterfly fish, so named for the black patches around its eyes.
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