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Great Maui Whale Count set for Saturday, Feb. 26

By Staff | Feb 24, 2011

Pacific Whale Foundation’s Great Maui Whale Count will be held on Saturday, Feb. 26. Residents and visitors will gather at 14 sites along Maui’s shores to count the number of humpback whales in view.

MAALAEA — Residents and visitors will assemble at 14 locations along Maui’s shores on Saturday, Feb. 26, to tally the number of humpback whales in view.

It’s time for the annual Great Maui Whale Count sponsored and led by the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF).

“We have nearly 150 counters signed up to take part in the count,” said Daniela Maldini, Ph.D., PWF research director.

“We’re very grateful for the many volunteers who want to assist with this effort.”

There are a few openings available for counters at select locations. If you would like to take part, call (808) 249-8811, extension 1.

All tools and training will be provided by PWF. It’s a great way to learn about whales and marine research and meet others who share your interest in whales.

Each volunteer is assigned to one of 12 shore-based counting stations, found along the south and west coasts of Maui, from the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua to Pu’u O Lai in Makena, plus at Hookipa Beach on Maui’s North Shore.

Training at each site begins at 8 a.m., and the official counting takes place from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

The counting is limited to animals sighted within three miles of the shoreline to ensure more accuracy and to allow the counters to best determine the whales’ pod composition and behaviors.

“The Great Maui Whale Count takes place during the peak of whale watching season on Maui,” said Maldini.

“People are often amazed by how many humpback whales you can see from the shore when you spend time looking for them.”

Last year’s tsunami watch delayed the event by a week. The count was conducted on March 6, 2010, with 1,208 humpback whale sightings reported.