LIHUE — The last Saturday during the peak humpback whale months of January, February and March have been designated as the 2017 Sanctuary Ocean Count days by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
Scientists estimate that about 12,000 humpback whales migrate from their high-latitude feeding grounds off Alaska to breed, calve and nurse their young each year in Hawaii’s warm waters.
Community volunteers monitor and record behaviors of humpback whales and other marine creatures during the period starting 8 a.m. through 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 28, Feb. 25 and March 25.
People wanting to participate in the Sanctuary Ocean Count are asked to register by emailing Jean.Souza@noaa.gov. New participants are required to take a two-hour training course.
“Volunteers who want to participate in the Sanctuary Ocean Counts need to be trained,” said Jean Souza, Kauai coordinator for the HIHWNMS. “Returning volunteers are also welcome to the training sessions for a refresher. Once trained, the volunteer can register for future Ocean Counts.”
Training led by Souza is 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School.
There will also be training sessions on Feb. 18, and March 18 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School cafeteria.
During Sanctuary Ocean Count days, the trained volunteers are asked to arrive at their sites ahead of the 8 a.m. count start time.
Sanctuary Ocean Counts are conducted on the island of Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu, with more than 60 shoreline sites.
Count sites on Kauai include the Lumahai Overlook, Princeville, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge-Kilauea Lighthouse, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge-Crater Hill, the Kapaa Lookout, Ahukini Landing, Ninini Point, Mahaulepu-Makauwahi Nature Trail, Mahaulepu-Makawehi, Makahuena Point, the Poipu Beach Park, Kaiwa Point, the Port Allen Cemetery, Waimea Canyon Drive Overlook and the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Mana.
Souza said a limited number of untrained volunteers will be allowed at the Sanctuary Ocean Count, but those volunteers need to register for the Poipu Beach Park site where Christy Parsil will help with training the volunteers for future counts.