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Help contribute to Hawaii whale research

By Staff | Jan 24, 2019

According to Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, fewer humpback whales are being observed in the main Hawaiian Islands in recent years, “and we don’t know why.”

Scientific evidence also suggests that the peak of whale season is shifting earlier, toward January.

If research into our fascinating winter guests interests you, and you want to contribute, volunteer to participate in the Great Whale Count.

Free and open to the public, counts will be held on Jan. 26, Feb. 23 and March 30 from 8 a.m. to noon.

Held throughout the state and coordinated on Maui by Pacific Whale Foundation, the Great Whale Count brings volunteers together to count whales from shore as part of a long-term survey of humpback whales in Hawaii.

This three-part event provides a snapshot of trends in relative abundance of whales and is one of the world’s longest-running citizen scientist projects.

“The economic benefit of citizen science is incredibly important to researchers, who can only collect a small amount of data themselves and are often facing budgetary restrictions,” said foundation Chief Biologist Stephanie Stack.

“By crowd-sourcing data collection, researchers can learn much more about the natural environment than they can with individual effort.”

Maui’s counts will be synched with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s annual Ocean Counts on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island to compare data and develop a comprehensive snapshot of trends across the main Hawaiian Islands.

To participate, register in advance at mauiwhalefestival.org/greatwhalecount.

Citizen science supplements whale research and knowledge. Help by volunteering for the Great Whale Count.