Humpback Whales in Hawaii

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Adult humpback whales are 39 – 52 feet long and weigh approximately 79,000 pounds!  If you visit Hawaii during breeding season, you can help count them in an effort to maintain their future health and safety.

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Stephanie Spengler Batzer wrote to me about how she’s involved in counting humpback whales in Hawaii. Here’s what she wrote…

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary Ocean Count

Each winter, from approximately December to May, a portion of the endangered North Pacific humpback whale population migrates from their feeding grounds in Alaska to the warm waters of Hawaii to engage in breeding activities.  Hawaii’s pristine marine environment is considered to be one of the most important breeding, calving and nursing grounds for humpback whales in the North Pacific.  For that reason, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was dedicated to protect humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaii.

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Humpback whale populations are still relatively unknown.  In an effort to provide a relative approximation of humpback whale numbers and distribution patterns locally over the years and to raise awareness of the species, the Sanctuary sponsors community events such as the Sanctuary Ocean Count.

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The Sanctuary Ocean Count was initiated as a means to provide Hawaii residents and visitors with the opportunity to observe humpback whales in their breeding grounds by conducting a yearly shore-based census during the peak breeding season.  Although the census does not claim to provide scientifically accurate results, it serves as a tool to supplement scientific information gathered from other research activities.  The count also provides some information on how whales use in-shore waters on an average peak season day.  The Sanctuary Ocean Count serves to promote public awareness about humpback whales, the Sanctuary, and shore-based whale watching opportunities.

The Sanctuary Ocean Count is held concurrently on Oahu, Kauai, the Big Island, and Kahoolawe.  By assisting in the count, volunteers help monitor the number of humpback whales and other marine mammals around our islands and ensure their health and safety for generations to come.

The first count was conducted in February 1996 on Oahu, with approximately 150 volunteers.  In 1999, the Big Island was added to the effort.  Kauai began participating in 2000 and Kahoolawe in 2002.  To date, the Sanctuary Ocean Count covers 60 sites on four islands, with over 2000 volunteers.  My site is Spitting Caves.  In the future, we hope to expand our count to other islands.

So remember, if you’re planning a visit to Hawaii, to check out the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and see if you can take part in this wonderful project!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at 9:49 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Traveling, USA, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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