More than 800 volunteers gathered across the shores of Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island on Saturday to take part in the annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count.
Volunteers at 60 shoreline sites documented sightings of humpback whales as well as their surface behavior.
According to the survey, a 15-minute period starting at 8:30 a.m. yielded the day’s highest tally, with 253 whales spotted. While weather conditions were favorable for seeing whales in some areas, others were affected by heavy winds, organizers said in a news release.
Additional ocean count sessions are set for Feb. 22 and March 29. Anyone interested in taking part may register on the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary website, sanctuaryoceancount.org.
Administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Department of Land and National Resources, the sanctuary helps to protect humpback whales in Hawaii waters, which are popular mating locations during the winter.