Sanctuary Ocean Count Update
Being held the last Saturday of January, February, and March, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and NOAA asked for volunteers to come out and help the organization make its annual whale count. The most recent count was held on Saturday, February 25, and was a huge success with over 800 volunteers gathering on the shores of Hawaii, Oahu, and Kauai. During the survey volunteers tallied humpback whale sightings and documented the animal’s surface behavior. Throughout the state, volunteers gathered information at 58 sites, and recorded what they saw during 15-minute counting periods. These numbers are the average numbers of sightings by island during the 15-minute counts: Hawaii Island – 2 whales (affected by inclement weather) Kauai – 4 whales Oahu – 4 whales Sanctuary Ocean Count coordinator, Christine Brammer said “This month’s count was a great success. The Sanctuary Ocean Count provides a unique opportunity for the public to learn about Hawaii’s humpbacks while participating in a monitoring effort. Although the population of humpback whales is increasing, entanglement and vessel collisions still threaten whales.” During this month’s ocean count some locations were affected by inclement weather in the form of rain that significantly decreased visibility. Whales weren’t the only marine wildlife that volunteers spotted either, also seen during the ocean count were Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and a variety of sea birds. There is one final Sanctuary Ocean Count scheduled for this whale season, and it will take place on Saturday, March 31st. For more information on volunteering to participate in the final Sanctuary Ocean Count of the year visit the Sanctuary Ocean Count website here, or call 1-888-55-whale ext. 253. There is also a whale count conducted on Maui, but it is organized independently by the Pacific Whale Foundation.