Be Whale Aware

Between the months of November and May thousands of humpback whales enjoy their annual migration to the Hawaiian Islands. While residents and visitors alike enjoy the experience of viewing humpback whales in their natural habitat, it is easy to forget that our presence can affect marine wildlife and habitat.

Marine mammals are often engaged in important social and behavioral activities which may not be apparent to a casual viewer. Approaching these animals too close or too fast may disrupt these behaviors and cause unnecessary stress to the animals. 

Pacific Whale Foundation has developed "Be Whale Aware" and "Be Dolphin Wise" guidelines. These are best practices for ocean users and boaters who wish to view whales and dolphins in Hawaii, and contribute to safe and sustainable eco-tourism practices.

View or download the "Be Whale Aware" guidelines for Hawaii >

View or download the "Be Whale Aware" guidelines for Australia >

Be Dolphin Wise

  • Please don’t attempt to touch, hold, or swim with dolphins, even if they swim toward you. If you are approached by wild dolphins while you are swimming, remain calm, maintain your course, do not engage in sudden or unpredictable movements, and calmly swim away from them.
  • Millions of people visit Hawaii each year. Many dream of “swimming with” dolphins in the wild. However, if all people who see dolphins tried to swim with them or approach them closely, the dolphins would experience significant and ongoing daily disturbances. Disturbances can cause stress to their health or cause them to flee to other areas where they may face increased dangers from sharks and other predators.
  • Diseases and other pathogens can be transmitted from humans to dolphins and vice versa, especially when humans come in close contact with wild dolphins. 

Need help?

  • To report an injured, stranded, or distressed marine mammal please call NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Hotline: 1-888-256-9840. Please report immediately and keep your distance, for your safety. Injured, sick, or entangled animals can be unpredictable and dangerous. 
  • To report a human related disturbance, call NOAA Enforcement: 1-800-853-1964.