The number of Bitcoin addresses that hold 1,000 Bitcoin (BTC)—roughly $34.7 million—or more has surged since the beginning of 2021 as 164 new “whales” have already emerged during January alone, crypto insights channel Unfolded pointed out today.

According to crypto metrics platform Glassnode, there are currently nearly 2,440 addresses that have 1,000 or more BTC. However, it’s impossible to say whether all of these are different users due to the blockchain’s inherent anonymity. (Some people may have multiple addresses and some addresses may hold Bitcoin owned by multiple people).

Notably, since the chart reflects users’ caches in terms of BTC—and not the dollar value—the ongoing price rally did not affect the data. This means that new addresses didn’t just suddenly and automatically became whales just because Bitcoin’s price surged. Rather, they actually added new coins to their holdings.

The number of Bitcoin whales is growing
The number of Bitcoin whales is growing. Image: Glassnode

Per Glassnode’s data, the total number of Bitcoin whales dipped between December 18–26 when Bitcoin was trading at roughly $23,000–$26,400. At the time, the cryptocurrency had just reached a new all-time high, so some whales—85 of them, to be precise—might have taken advantage of the rally and sold at least some parts of their holdings, leaving the “big leagues” in the process.

Since December 26, when it became apparent that Bitcoin’s price wasn’t going to stop with just slightly increasing its all-time high, the number of Bitcoin whales started to grow rapidly again.

As for Bitcoin itself, the cryptocurrency is currently trading at around $34,750, down 6% on the day, according to Coingecko. The bull run seems to be slowing down a bit lately because trend-following retail investors might be losing their fervor, as claimed by a strategist at JPMorgan, who added that BTC needs a push above $40,000 to continue its upward momentum.

On the other hand, institutional investors have recently bought $600 million worth of Bitcoin in just one day via Grayscale investments—effectively conducting one of the largest single BTC purchases ever. Some of them may even be a few of these new whales.