Fins Up: It’s Whale-Counting Season in Hawai‘i
The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary needs your help.
For a lot of people, whale season in Hawai‘i is a time to hike up Makapu‘u and watch humpbacks enjoying the warm winter waters of the Islands, where they come to breed. But did you know you can watch whales for science? Hawai‘i is the only U.S. state where humpback whales mate, calve and nurse their young, making it an ideal place to monitor the endangered whales’ behavior.
This month and next, volunteers can help the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary with its research by observing whales at more than 60 sites around the Islands, 26 on O‘ahu. At these sanctuary ocean counts, volunteers record how many whales they see throughout the morning and what their behaviors are, such as tail slapping, breaching and fluke-up diving. “It’s citizen science,” says Ed Lyman, resource protection manager and large-whale entanglement response coordinator. While the biggest gain from these counts is that everyday people become engaged stewards of the ocean, “the beauty of getting the public involved is they gather the very science we need,” says Lyman.
Sanctuary ocean counts will be held Feb. 28 and March 28 from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov