Volunteer Whale Watching in Hawaiʻi: the Sanctuary Ocean Count Project

The Sanctuary Ocean Count is an outreach and citizen science project created to promote public awareness about humpback whales, the sanctuary, and shore-based whale watching opportunities in the Hawaiian Islands.

Conducted three times per year during peak whale season, it provides a snapshot of humpback whales sightings from the shoreline. Participants to the count tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey which is from 8 am to 12 noon.

The Sanctuary Ocean Count project is highly dependent on and hugely successful due to enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers! Please see our registration instructions if you’d like to be part of the team.

Ocean count 2024 dates

The 2024 Ocean Counts are scheduled for the following Saturday’s:

  • January 27,
  • February 24, and
  • March 30.

Sign up directly here.

Find out things you never knew about the Humpback Whales

Humpback whales are very impressive animals, even when you look at their size alone. Even seeing one in the distant ocean is enough to make many people (locals and visitors) exclaim: “Look, a whale!”.

Next to their size, there are many other facts that make these whales remarkable creatures. Did you know for example that you can hear the whales sing under water? Sometimes when you are at the beach all you have to do is stick your head under water. Find out how exactly at our explanation of how to hear the whales and whale watching on Hawaii.

For fun humpback whale information and trivia (did you know a whale is more closely related to a giraffe than to a fish?) see our Humpback Whale 101, and also don’t forget to read our 6 great whale watching tips if you are going on a whale watching tour.

Whale watching lessons learned from the Ocean Count:

The many thousands of whale sightings tallied in the previous decades are giving interesting insights about whale behavior and presence in the Hawaiian waters. Some of these results are especially interesting if you are interested in seeing whales yourself!

You can find Sanctuary Ocean Count site statistics from all previous years, as well as some interesting results we draw from them, here.

We are not affiliated with the Ocean Count effort on the Hawaiʻi islands but maintain this website to raise awareness about the ocean count. Find the official website for the Ocean Count at https://oceancount.org/ or, for Maui, at the Pacific Whale Foundation website.