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Posted: Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 12:56 PM HST

Hundreds of humpback whales counted off Hawaii

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) The first round of an annual survey of humpback whales off Hawaii has counted hundreds of the marine mammals.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser says more than 800 volunteers fanned out across the shores of Kauai, Oahu and Hawaii islands on Saturday.

The volunteers were participating in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count.

Participants at 60 locations documented sightings of the whales and their surface behavior.

In one 15-minute period, 253 whales were spotted, yielding the day's highest tally.

Other counting sessions are scheduled to take place on Feb. 22 and March 29.

The sanctuary, which helps protect humpbacks in Hawaii waters, is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Department of Land and National Resources.

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