Volunteering for the Kohola (Whale)
This week’s post is by Interactive Project Manager Rochelle Olson who is living her Hawaii dream. Born and raised in Minnesota, she stalked our agency until we hired her and now she’s not just “local,” she volunteers all over town. Just don’t ask her to speak pidgin.
A couple of weeks ago I made a promise to my mom. She’s visiting from Minnesota and she really wanted to see whales. So I took her out on a Saturday afternoon and I promised her we would see some whales. I brought her to Halona Blow Hole, a place well known for whale watching. I’ve been there numerous times and have seen whales every time. There are over 12,000 whales in Hawaii during the winter, but on this beautiful, sunny afternoon, they were nowhere to be found. My mom, with binoculars hanging around her neck, tried to hide her disappointment, but I knew I had to do something to make up for it.
I came across information online on the 2012 Sanctuary Ocean count that is done by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary every winter. One day a month, January-March, they gather volunteers at various spots on Oahu, Hawaii and Kauai to count whales and track their behavior. I immediately signed us up and at the same location where the whales first eluded us, Halona Blow Hole.
We showed up at 8am on a Saturday with chairs and cooler in tow. We barely had a chance to settle in before we started seeing whales. One after the other we watched them blow, slap and breach. Adult whales and their babies. For four hours we counted them, and tracked their activity. My mom saw more whales then she ever thought possible and even a couple of turtles. It was the easiest volunteer gig we’ve ever done. We already signed up again for the next two counts on February 25th and March 31st.
To join in on the fun, visit the Sanctuary’s website and sign up: