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 to contribute to safe and sustainable ecotourism. These are best practices for ocean users and boaters when in the vicinity of humpback whales or 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. Also use reef-safe sunscreen and apply at least 20 minutes prior to entering the water.