More than 800 volunteers gathered data Saturday from the shores of Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii islands during the first increment of the annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count.
The count is a yearly shore-based census that provides snapshot data about humpback whales. Participants tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey. Volunteers collected data from 60 sites statewide. A total of 253 whales were seen during the 8:30-8:45 a.m. time period, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count.
Coordinators at 60 sites reported data. Preliminary data detailing whale sightings by site location is available at www.sanctuaryoceancount.org/resources.
Two more Sanctuary Ocean Counts are scheduled to take place Feb. 22 and March 29. For more information on becoming a Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteer, visit http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov or http://sanctuaryoceancount.org, or call (808) 268-3087.
The sanctuary, which is administered by a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the state of Hawaii through the Department of Land and Natural Resources, protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaiian waters where they migrate each winter to mate, calve and nurse their young.