East Hawaii News

Over 550 Humpback Whale Sightings Off the Big Island

February 1, 2016, 3:11 PM HST
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Humpback whale. NOAA file photo.

Humpback whale. NOAA file photo.

The first event of the 2016 Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count brought in a total of 552 volunteers on the Big Island, Kauai, and Oahu.

On Jan. 30, Big Island volunteers spotted humpback whales an average of four times per 15-minute period throughout the morning, with a total of 556 total reported humpback whale sightings at all locations from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

High individual location totals include Mile Marker 7 (109), Pu’ukohola Heiau National Park (101), Lapakahi State Park (86), and Kapa’a Beach Park (69).

Across the Big Island, Kauai, and Oahu, a total of 258 whales were sighted at observation points between 8:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.. It was the largest number of whales observed during one of the morning’s 15-minute observation periods.

Saturday’s weather conditions were favorable for spotting whales, although vog haze impacted some viewing sites and white caps from high surf also made some areas difficult to see, according to sanctuary officials.


Each year, the count is conducted three times during the peak of whale season. Volunteers watch from the shoreline and take down data that helps provide snapshot information on humpback whales.


Both humpback whale sightings and the animal’’ surface behavior is documented in the survey.

Volunteers are sought for two more Sanctuary Ocean Counts, scheduled for Feb. 27 and March 26. Those interested in volunteering can register online or by calling (808) 725-5912. Registration is required to participate.

To review data on the Jan. 30 Ocean Count, visit the Sanctuary Ocean Count website. 

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