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172 Humpbacks Spotted During Peak of Sanctuary Whale Count

January 29, 2018, 7:24 AM HST · Updated January 29, 7:24 AM
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Humpback whale breaching about a mile offshore from Mākena, Maui. (1.4.18) PC: Ellen Raimo

More than 557 volunteers gathered data from the shores of Oʻahu, Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi islands during the first event of the 2018 Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. The count comes ahead of the Great Whale Count conducted by the Pacific Whale Foundation in Maui waters in February.

Volunteers collected data from 46 sites statewide on Saturday, Jan. 27. A total of 172 whale sightings were seen during the 10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. time period, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count.

The count serves to promote public awareness about humpback whales, the sanctuary, and shore-based whale watching opportunities. The count provides a snapshot of humpback whale sightings from the shoreline with participants tallying humpback whale sightings and documenting the animals’ surface behavior during the survey.

Preliminary data detailing whale sightings by site location is available online.

The sanctuary, which is administered by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawai‘i 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.

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