• I will follow the guidelines of the Go Slow – Whales Below program
    • I will respect the 50-yard approach limit for spinner dolphins
    • I will call 888-256-9840 if I see false killer whales in Maui Nui waters

    Marine mammals often engage in important social and behavioral activities that may not be apparent to a casual viewer. Approaching these animals too closely or too quickly may disrupt these behaviors and cause unnecessary stress. 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. Vessel collisions with marine animals and unsustainable tourism practices are among the major threats to whales and dolphins, as identified by PWF researchers through years of research.

    Boat operators have a special opportunity to protect Hawai’iʻs marine mammals by agreeing to follow some basic guidelines when operating in Hawaiian waters. Marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and in Hawai’i there is added protection for humpback whales and spinner dolphins. These include a required 100 yard approach limit for humpback whales and a 50 yard approach limit for spinner dolphins.

    Along with following these requirements boat operators are encouraged to adopt additional practices to protect whales, dolphins and other marine mammals. Boat operators can help protect whales and dolphins by slowing down their vessel speed and following the recommendations below to avoid disturbing these and other animals who live in the ocean we love to visit.

    Visitors and residents of Hawai’i can help protect marine mammals as well by asking any tour operator they are booking an excursion with if they follow these requirements and guidelines. Ocean goers also must adhere to the approach limits for humpback whales and spinner dolphins when swimming off of a boat or from shore. Violation of the approach limits can result in a fine from DLNR or NOAA enforcement. Additionally, anyone can report harrassment of marine life to NOAA Enforcement (24-hour) Hotline: 1-800-853-1964.


    Hawai’i is home to a population of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) that is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Current estimates indicate that there are less than 200 individuals in the population. PWF researchers have made false killer whales a priority species to study, but their low numbers and wide-ranging habitat (all of the Main Hawaiian Islands) makes it difficult to encounter them regularly during field work. To increase the opportunity to study this species PWF launched a False Killer Whale Rapid Response Program which is activated whenever someone who sees a false killer whale in Maui nui waters calls 888-256-9840. When this hotline is activated, if conditions allow, PWF researchers will launch their dedicated research boat, Kaiao, to attempt to intercept and collect much-needed scientific data.

    Use our Blackfish ID card to help identify false killer whales and learn more about them HERE.


    Between November and May, thousands of humpback whales migrate annually to the Hawaiian Islands. While residents and visitors alike enjoy viewing humpback whales in their natural habitat, it is important to remember that our presence can affect marine wildlife and habitat. 

    Representatives from PWF, Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, DLNR-Division of Aquatic Resources, DNLR-Division of boating and Ocean Recreation, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, tour boat operators, such as PWF’s social enterprise PacWhale Eco-Adventures, and invested members of the community have worked on the set of recommendations to keep both whales and watchers safe.

    Read more about Go Slow – Whales Below in our blog post HERE


    Spinner dolphins are especially vulnerable to disturbance by humans because they tend to congregate in shallow bays during the day time. Spinner dolphins use these areas to rest in order to go out at night to feed. Any disturbance of their rest may cause them to have less energy to feed which is critical to the fitness of the dolphins and ccould cause them to be less able to reproduce.

    In October 2021, NOAA Fisheries finalized a rule under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to prohibit swimming, approaching or remaining within 50 yards of a Hawaiian spinner dolphin. The rule applies to any vessel, person, or object.

    For more dolphin safety reccomendations and regulations, click the dropdown for your area below.


    Please consider donating to our foundation so we can continue to employ Maui residents and conduct vital Research, Education and Conservation programs to protect the ocean and its inhabitants.

    Disaster Response Funds

    Hawaii Visitor Update

    Aloha, We Are Open!  Our PacWhale Eco-Adventures are open for booking as we welcome visitors back to Maui.  Quarantine restrictions were lifted on Oct. 15th for those following the state’s pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements.