Maui News

2024 Sanctuary Ocean Count welcomes back whales and volunteers 

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Lyman/Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (NOAA permit #14682)

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary welcomes back koholā (humpback whales) and volunteers for the 2024 Sanctuary Ocean Count scheduled for Jan. 27, Feb. 24, and March 30. 

Volunteers must register in advance, and participation is limited for each Sanctuary Ocean Count site. Volunteer registration goes live Monday, Jan. 8, 2024 at 12 p.m. HST. Registration and more information about Sanctuary Ocean Count is online. 

Since 1996, the annual Sanctuary Ocean Count has promoted public awareness about humpback whales, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and shore-based whale watching opportunities. Site leaders and volunteers tally koholā sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the surveys, which provides a snapshot of koholā activity from the shorelines of O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, and Hawai‘i Island. Sanctuary Ocean Count is supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.


The Pacific Whale Foundation conducts the Great Whale Count on Maui, on the same dates as Sanctuary Ocean Count. More information can be found online.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is administered by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources, and protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaiian waters where they migrate each winter to mate, calve, and nurse their young.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official nonprofit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports national marine sanctuaries by protecting species, conserving ecosystems, and preserving America’s maritime heritage through on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs.

Volunteers scouting for koholā (humpback whales) during the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. PC: Paul Wong/NOAA


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