Educating the public, from a scientific perspective, about marine wildlife and their ocean habitat is at the heart of everything we do at Pacific Whale Foundation. Early on, we recognized that public awareness and concern for the welfare of whales would play a vital role in helping to protect them. Since 1980, we have presented free talks, community events, and resource materials based on our research findings and advocacy efforts, a practice that continues to this day.
We also have a longstanding focus on our keiki (Hawaiian for “children”), recognizing that they are our future environmental stewards. We offer a variety of innovative educational programs and activities, including Keiki Whalewatch and Ocean Camp programs that provide science enrichment for pre-K to high school students. In addition, we offer credited internship opportunities for college and university students interested in marine research.
Our PacWhale ecotours are essentially floating classrooms, and through them we have been able to educate literally millions of people — sharing our message of whale protection and ocean conservation for nearly four decades. We offer a free Jr. Naturalist Program onboard most trips to teach children about the ocean, marine wildlife, and environmental stewardship. Jr. Naturalist Program activities change daily and include interactive games, fun fish i.d. cards, hands-on exploration with models and bio-artifacts, and a free activity booklet.
All our ecotours are led by certified Marine Naturalists who have college degrees in marine biology or related sciences. These dedicated crew members receive continual professional training through “Eco-U”, our rigorous certification program. In addition to providing expert commentary during trips and conducting the onboard Jr. Naturalist Program, our Naturalists staff our Ulua Beach and “Trail of the Whale” Information Stations along Maui’s coast, and participate in other public education initiatives, such as our Making Waves Lecture Series and our annual Maui Whale Festival.
Pacific Whale Foundation’s Discovery Center is located on the lower level of our offices at the Maʻalaea Harbor Shops. It consists of two air-conditioned laboratory classrooms equipped for multi-media presentations and for science based learning, including microscopes, bio-artifacts and other educational materials.
The Discovery Center can also be configured into one large public meeting space (for up to 120 people), which we use for our Making Waves Lecture Series and other events. When not in use for our programs, the space can be rented and there is no charge for environmental non-profit groups. Free parking for is available at the Maʻalaea Harbor Shops.