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. Do not attempt to touch, feed or swim with whales, dolphins, sea turtles or other marine wildlife as this could be dangerous for the animal and for you.
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.
Sea turtles are air-breathing reptiles and it is illegal to harass them. Enjoy them from a distance of at least 10 feet and be sure to not block their path as they surface to breathe. Do not touch, feed or attempt to hold or ride a sea turtle.
Monk seals are a protected species. If you encounter one in the ocean, you should immediately move to a different location. Approaching or attempting to play or swim with them may alter their behavior and their ability to fend for themselves in the wild. Monk seals regularly haul out to rest on beaches and shores. If you see a monk seal on land, please stay at least 50 feet away from the animal (150 feet if there is a pup present). Report all sightings of monk seals on land to NOAA’s Marine Mammal Hotline: 1-888-256-9840.
Corals are delicate living organisms. Damaging just one square inch of coral could undo hundreds of years of growth. Refrain from standing on or kicking reefs as this can easily kill the coral. If you plan to going into the water, be sure to use only reef-safe sunscreen and apply at least 20 minutes prior to entering the water
To report any injured, entangled, stranded or distressed marine life, call NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal (24-hour) Hotline: 1-888-256-9840. Please call immediately and do not attempt to help the animal yourself. Animals under stress can be unpredictable and dangerous.
To report violations of the 100-yard approach rule for humpback whales, or other human disturbance or harassment of marine life, call the NOAA Enforcement (24-hour) Hotline: 1-800-853-1964.
Our thoughts go out to all that are being impacted by COVID-19. With a team dedicated to our response to this pandemic, we are meeting regularly to ensure the continuation of programs and services that allow our mission work to continue.
Pacific Whale Foundation’s leadership team is closely monitoring updates from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization regarding COVID-19. We will continue to seek guidance from these agencies, public health officials and government agencies on an ongoing basis.