Whale count suggests that peak season still to come

More than 100 volunteers on Saturday working with Pacific Whale Foundation researchers counted 1,126 humpback whale sightings during the annual Great Whale Count off Maui.

There were 12 counting stations along Maui’s south and western shores in an area extending from Makena to Kapalua.

The count was not of the number of whales but a proportion of the whales off Maui, as observations are within 3 nautical miles, said PWF founder and Executive Director Greg Kaufman.

After reviewing Saturday’s data, Kaufman said he believed that the peak of whale season is yet to come, as there was a lower number of calves recorded this year than last year, 83 calves – or 7.6 percent of all sightings, compared to 9.7 percent in 2012.

The whale observation site at Pu’u Olai in South Maui recorded the largest number of whale sightings, with 327 whales including 15 calves. The counts lasted several hours Saturday morning.