Kauai News

Whale sanctuary welcomes volunteers to 2023 Ocean Count

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The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is welcoming back volunteers for the 2023 Sanctuary Ocean Count scheduled for Jan. 28, Feb. 25 and March 25.

Participants in the annual survey tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior, which provides a snapshot of humpback whale activity from the shorelines of O‘ahu, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island.

The whale sanctuary’s boundaries include a portion of the North Shore of Kaua‘i, which has a total of 12 active survey locations located on all sides of the island.


The sanctuary touches nearly all of the major Hawaiian Islands, which are the principal winter breeding grounds for the North Pacific humpback whale population. Thousands of humpback whales journey to the islands to each winter and spring to breed, give birth and nurse their offspring, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The NOAA office oversees a total of 15 national marine sanctuaries and two national marine monuments, including Papahānaumokuākea in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteers must register in advance, and participation is limited for each Sanctuary Ocean Count site. Volunteer registration is now live. To register and receive more information on Sanctuary Ocean Count, visit Oceancount.org.


The annual Sanctuary Ocean Count has promoted public awareness about humpback whales, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and shore-based whale watching opportunities since 1996. The Sanctuary Ocean Count is supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

The Pacific Whale Foundation conducts the Great Whale Count on Maui, on the same dates as Sanctuary Ocean Count. More information can be found online here.

This is the first year since March 2020 that both programs will be resuming volunteer  operations.

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