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Sanctuary Ocean Count Volunteer Information

Volunteers are essential in conducting the sanctuary's annual Ocean Count event. Volunteers monitor the water for signs of humpback whale activity, help record whale behaviors, complete a site map, and contribute to public awareness about whale watch opportunities around the islands. The majority of participants are local residents, however expanding interest has brought us calls from the mainland, Australia and beyond. Don't miss your chance to get involved!

Registration for the Sanctuary Ocean Count takes place from late December to March each year.

2015 Event Dates: January 31, February 28, and March 28

Once you have selected a site (Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi*) and date for the count, you are ready to register.

If you have any questions, please call: 808-725-5923
Phone calls will be returned as promptly as possible - we appreciate your patience.

Interested in registering a group of 5 or more? Please see group information.

Interested in being a site leader? Please contact us at the numbers listed above.

Some sites fill up quickly so we recommend that you register as early as possible. If your site is already full, your count coordinator can recommend an alternate location for you.

As the event gets closer you will need to contact the designated site leader for your site to find out the specific details for meeting times and locations. You will be given the site leader's contact information when you register. Your site leader will be responsible for organizing the volunteers at your site and relaying any last-minute information from the Ocean Count coordinators.

On the day of the event, you will be asked to arrive at your site around 7:30 a.m. (or earlier if a hike is required) to get settled and receive instructions for data collection procedures. Some items you may consider bringing with you include pens or pencils, clipboards, binoculars, beach chairs or mats, hats, jackets, umbrellas, sunglasses, sunscreen, snacks, and water. A cellular telephone is also helpful in case of emergencies.

Site leaders will be responsible for collecting all data sheets from the volunteers and submitting them back to the count coordinators. Volunteers are also asked to fill out an evaluation form to provide comments and suggestions for improving the event. Feel free to give them to your site leader to forward or send them directly to the sanctuary office.

Safety is a primary concern during the Ocean Count. If weather or environmental conditions during the ocean count become unsafe, please abort the effort and vacate the area to ensure the safety of yourself and others. We recommend that while whale watching, all necessary precautions be taken as conditions at some of these shore sites can become unsafe. We advise that proper clothing and footwear be worn at all times. Never turn your back to the ocean or walk along steep cliffs.

Thank you for your interest in the Sanctuary Ocean Count and we hope you have a great day whale watching!


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