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February humpback whale count data released

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 4:13 a.m. HST, Mar 4, 2011

HONOLULU » Volunteers counting humpback whales last month saw an average of five every 15 minutes from sites on Oahu and Kauai. Those on the Big Island saw an average of four.

About 800 volunteers at 62 sites on the three islands gathered the data for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The figures are similar to data from January's count. The Pacific Whale Foundation conducted a separate count from Maui.

Ocean count project manager Claire Kavanaugh said Thursday the sanctuary doesn't release an overall number whales counted because of the chance volunteers may have counted some whales more than once.

The figures aren't precise enough to scientifically estimate Hawaii's humpback population, but they help the sanctuary understand population trends and corroborate scientific research.

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