Updated: September 29, 2022
Eighty-one trained site leaders gathered data from the shores of O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i islands during the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count and from Maui during the Great Whale Count by Pacific Whale Foundation. This was the second of three coordinated whale counts between the two organizations in 2022.
Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the sanctuary and Pacific Whale Foundation are running modified programs without the normal participation of volunteers. Instead, each site is monitored by trained site leaders.
This is the fourth year that both counts are coordinated on the same days, ensuring the data from all the main Hawaiian Islands are collected simultaneously.
Site leaders collected data from 43 sites across all the main Hawaiian Islands on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.
- A total of 228 whale sightings were seen during the 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. time period, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count.
- On Maui, Great Whale Count site leaders collected data from 11 sites during 15-minute intervals between 8:30 and 11:45 a.m. A total of 94 whale sightings were seen during the 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. time period, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count.
- On the islands of Hawai‘i, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i, Ocean Count site leaders collected data from 32 sites; a total of 135 whale sightings were seen during the 9 to 9:15 a.m. time period, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count.
Across the main Hawaiian Islands, the average weather conditions were sunny skies, small swells and light winds. However, a few sites were impacted by high surf which made viewing whales more difficult. Throughout the dayʻs count, there were also several interesting sightings across the islands such as: several humpback whale competition groups, a humpback whale mom teaching its calf to breach and multiple ocean recreation activities. A variety of other species were also spotted during the count including honu (green sea turtles), naiʻa (spinner dolphins), mālolo (flying fish) and multiple seabird species such as ʻā (red-footed/brown booby), koaʻe ʻula (red-tailed tropicbird, ʻiwa (great frigatebird), mōlī (laysan albatross) and more.
Ocean Count promotes public awareness about humpback whales, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and shore-based whale watching opportunities. Site leaders tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey, which provides a snapshot of humpback whale activity from the shorelines of O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i islands. Ocean Count is supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
The Great Whale Count by Pacific Whale Foundation had site leaders count whales from shore as part of a long-term survey of humpback whales in Hawai‘i, with 12 survey sites along the shoreline of Maui. This event provides a snapshot of trends in relative abundance of whales and is one of the world’s longest-running community science projects.
Both counts will take place three times during peak whale season annually on the last Saturdays in January, February, and March.
Preliminary data detailing Sanctuary Ocean Count whale sightings by site location are available online. Additional information is available on the sanctuary’s website.
Pacific Whale Foundation’s Great Whale Count data can be found online, with additional information at www.mauiwhalefestival.org.