An estimated 1,126 humpback whales were observed in the waters surrounding Maui during the Great Whale Count held over the weekend.
The survey, conducted by the Pacific Whale Foundation, utilized more than one hundred volunteers who gathered data on the wintering whales from twelve locations across Maui.
Pacific Whale Foundation’s founder and Executive Director Greg Kaufman said, “Typically, at the peak of the season, we see mothers and calves inshore, and competition pods beginning to move inshore as well. I think the whales are still arriving to Maui from the south, from the direction of the Big Island, and predict we’ll be seeing greater amounts of nearshore activity in the weeks to come.”
More important, authorities say, is the overall upward trend in the number of whales sighted since 1995. Officials estimate that anywhere between 12,000 to 14,000 humpbacks make the trek to Hawaii each year.
“Some sites experienced gusty trade winds, which kicked up the sea and made it challenging to locate whales. Nonetheless, the count was a success,” reported Dr. Emmanuelle Martinez, senior researcher at Pacific Whale Foundation.