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Hawaii News

Kauai volunteers count few whales in Saturday tally


    Mother humpback and calf.

LIHUE >> Few humpback whales showed up to be counted Saturday at the Kauai sites of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count.

Contrary to the other sites on Oahu and Hawaii island, Kauai counts were low.

“The overall average number (unofficial) of whale sightings at all 15 sites on Kauai during a 15-minute count period was two,” said Jean Souza, Kauai programs coordinator and sanctuary volunteer coordinator for the sanctuary. “This is low for a February count. The number of whale sightings ranged from less than one to four for the 15-minute count period. The largest number of sightings were at the Makahuena Point in Poipu and the Ninini Point in Lihue, where both sites reported four sightings.”

Souza said that in comparison, the Jan. 28 count ranged from one to 10 whale sightings per 15-minute count period, with the highest number of sightings being at the Makahuena Point and Mahaulepu-Makawehi Point.

Cindy Among-Serrao, spokeswoman for the state sanctuary count office, said 174 whale sightings were recorded during the 11:30-11:45 a.m. time period — the most of any period during the Saturday count.

“There were more whale sightings on Hawaii island this Ocean Count compared to last month’s,” Among-Serrao said. “Conditions were generally overcast across the sites with flat and calm waters, and little to no wind, which allowed for great whale-viewing conditions. Volunteers on Hawaii island at the Ka Lae Ocean Count site had quite a show, viewing 23 breaches, an acrobatic display where the humpback uses its tail to launch itself out of the water, then lands back on the surface with a splash, in just 15 minutes.”

Souza said there were 123 volunteers participating at the 15 Ocean Count sites on Kauai. More than 590 volunteers joined at 50 sites on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island.

Naturalists and site leaders educated more than 220 people from the general public who visited the sites during the count period that ran from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

The count is conducted three times a year during the peak whale season of January through March, and provides a snapshot of humpback whale sightings from the shoreline. The final Ocean Count of 2017 will take place March 25.

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