Hawaii humpback whale counts plunge in March
  • Wednesday, November 21, 2018
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Hawaii humpback whale counts plunge in March

  • COURTESY PHOTO U.S. COAST GUARD

    A NOAA member attempted to safely remove a large electrical cable from the mouth of a subadult humpback whale off Maui in March 2017. Only 34 humpback whales were spotted during the third and final monthly count that took place Saturday on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island.

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Only 34 humpback whales were spotted during the third and final monthly count that took place Saturday on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count said more than 442 volunteers gathered data from 43 sites on the three isles for a 15-minute period starting at 11 a.m. Saturday. Weather conditions for whale viewing were great on Hawaii island, but unfavorable on Oahu and Kauai, which had to cancel a few viewing sites due to rain, thunder and lightning.

The March numbers are an 80 percent drop from the 172 whale sightings that volunteers recorded from 46 sites in January during the peak of the annual ocean count. In February, 135 whales were recorded from 44 sites on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island.

In the annual Great Whale Count — an independent count by 100 volunteer citizen scientists conducted by the Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui, a total of 529 humpback whales were sighted in February, which was a significant drop from 984 the year prior.

The annual ocean count takes place on the last Saturday of January, February and March. Preliminary data is available at this link.

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