East Hawaii News

Volunteers Tally Whales in 20th Anniversary Sanctuary Ocean Count

March 2, 2015, 3:05 PM HST
* Updated March 2, 3:10 PM
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Nearly 900 volunteers on the Big Island, Kauai, and Oahu participated in the 20th anniversary Sanctuary Ocean Count on Feb. 28, a community project to gather census data on humpback whales in the islands.

Volunteers tallied whale sightings from 55 different sites, spotting 105 humpbacks between 8:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.  Participants also documented surface behavior of the whales during the count.

The endangered species migrates to Hawaiian Island oceans every year during winter months to mate and nurture its young.  The Sanctuary Ocean Count is part of an overall effort to protect the species and its local habitat.  The event was the second this year in a series of three.

The next and final Sanctuary Ocean Count for 2015 will be on Mar. 28.  Registration is required to participate, and must be completed one week prior to the event.

“For 20 years, the Sanctuary Ocean Count has proven to be a fun volunteer activity for residents and visitors,” said Malia Chow, marine sanctuary superintendent. “It also provides important population and distribution information on humpback whales around the Hawaiian Islands that we use to better understand and protect this important species.”

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The data gathered on the sightings can be viewed online.

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