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First whale count of season records plenty of sightings

The Maui News

A total of 135 whale sightings were recorded on Maui from 9 to 9:15 a.m. Saturday, the most of any 15-minute time period on the island during the first of three coordinated whale count events this season.

More than 550 volunteers gathered data from 53 sites on Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island as part of a joint effort between the Pacific Whale Foundation and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

This is the second year that both the foundation’s Great Whale Count and the Sanctuary Ocean Count were coordinated on the same days, ensuring that data from all the main islands are collected simultaneously, according to a news release from both organizations.

On Maui, Great Whale Count volunteers collected data from 12 sites during 15-minute intervals between 8:30 a.m. and 11:50 a.m. The 9 to 9:15 a.m. time period had the most sightings of the day with 135.

On the other three islands, Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteers collected data from 41 sites. The 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. time period had the most sightings with 148.

Statewide, a total of 279 whale sightings were recorded from 8:30 to 8:45 a.m., the most of any time period.

Weather conditions varied, but the majority of sites were beautiful, clear and sunny, with low wind.

Two more coordinated counts will take place on the final Saturdays in February and March.

For more information on the Pacific Whale Foundation, visit pacificwhale.org. To view data or sign up for the Great Whale Count, visit mauiwhalefestival.org/greatwhalecount.

For preliminary data or to sign up for the Sanctuary Ocean Count, visit oceancount.org or hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.