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More than 500 volunteers gathered data from the shores of O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, the Big Island, and Kaho‘olawe for Saturday’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. Participants tallied humpback whale sightings and documented the animals’ surface behavior during the survey. This was the last whale count of the 2007 whale season. The sanctuary, which is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaiian waters, where they migrate each winter to mate, calve, and nurse their young.
Volunteers collected data from 59 sites statewide. Every 15 minutes an average of 166 whales were counted statewide. The following are the average numbers of whales sighted per 15-minute count period on each of the islands:
Scientific studies have shown that Hawaii’s humpback whale population has been increasing at an annual rate of approximately seven percent, and over time data from the Sanctuary Ocean Count can be used to corroborate these findings. Hawaiian waters provide critical breeding habitat for approximately two-thirds of the North Pacific stock of humpback whales.
“Today was a beautiful day to count whales from Hawai`i’s shores. This was the third whale count of the season and we were fortunate enough to have beautiful weather for each count this year” said Christine Brammer, Sanctuary Ocean Count Coordinator. “The Ocean Count project provides a unique opportunity for the public to learn about Hawai`i’s humpbacks and the sanctuary and understand what is being done to protect the humpbacks from threats such as entanglement. Volunteers are often also fortunate enough to see spinner dolphins, sea turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals.”
The annual Sanctuary Ocean Count project will be held in 2008 on the last Saturday of January, February, and March. Find out more about the project and view previous Ocean Count results on the sanctuary’s website at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov. A whale count on Maui is conducted independently by the Pacific Whale Foundation.
The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program, which manages the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
On the Web:
National Marine Sanctuary Program: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov
Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary: http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov