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Hundreds participate in whale count: 557 volunteers collect data at 46 sites on three islands

More than 550 volunteers gathered data from the shores of Hawaii Island, Oahu and Kauai during the first event of the 2018 Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count.

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

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Weather conditions were ideal for viewing whales throughout the majority of the state. Rain did affect a few sites on the Big Island.

Ocean Count promotes public awareness about humpback whales, the sanctuary and shore-based whale watching opportunities.

The sanctuary hosts Ocean Count three times each year during peak whale season. Participants tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey, which provides a snapshot of the whales’ activity from the shoreline.

The sanctuary 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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The next counting event is slated for Feb. 24. Those who participate should bring sun protection, water, snacks and a cushion to sit on.

For more information or to register, visit www.sanctuaryoceancount.org.