About us

With a mission to protect the ocean through science and advocacy, and to inspire environmental stewardship, Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) conducts Research, Education and Conservation programs for the communities in which it serves. Founded by Greg Kaufman in 1980 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the world’s whales from extinction, PWF has now grown into a social enterprise that offers fee-based programs and services through PacWhale Eco-Adventures to help fund its nonprofit work. Combined with memberships, donations, charitable grants and a remarkable group of dedicated volunteers, PWF now reaches more than 400,000 individuals each year through its Maui and Australia offices and research projects in Ecuador and Chile.

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What makes us the experts

As leaders in the development of responsible whale watching, Pacific Whale Foundation has been acutely aware of the ever-changing nature of the relationship between humans and marine mammals and has developed a broad, holistic approach to marine tourism.

For the past 40 years, our researchers have conducted studies and collected data to better understand marine life and how to best protect it. All ecotours are led by a Certified Marine Naturalist, who holds a degree in marine sciences or a related subject and goes through an extensive training program covering the culmination of this research, as well as vessel operations and Hawaiian culture.

Through our efforts, millions of people have learned about whales and other marine life, like dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, and the endangered Hawaiian population of false killer whales. We take pride in knowing that we have been at the forefront of educating the public, from a scientific perspective, about marine life and the world in which they live.

These are just a few of the ways our operations help fulfill our mission to protect the ocean and inspire environmental stewardship

Research conducted in HawaiiEcuadorAustralia and Chile

  • The "PWF" Difference

    7,596 individuals in our humpback whale photo-ID catalogs

    1,636 individuals in our odontocete photo-ID catalogs

    314 peer-reviewed scientific publications, reports, conference presentations, and books

    Collaborations with 91 organizations around the world

    Our Be Whale Aware & Dolphin Wise guidelines are a model of responsible wildlife watching

    Ongoing international efforts to promote sustainable tourism in developing countries

    Active participant in the IWC to help enforce legislation to protect marine mammals and the ocean environment

    Sustainable Tourism certified by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association.

    Developed and put into use the first of their kind protective devices around propellers

    We don’t dump; we pump our vessel waste into a certified management facility

    Eco-friendly food service is straw-free and plastic cup-free, with all cans and bottles recycled after use.

    Sustainable, locally sourced food & beverages served onboard

    We only use state-approved moorings, helping to ensure the protection of the marine

    environment and navigational and public safety

    4 unique ways for the public to participate as a citizen scientist

    Volunteer opportunities offered to visitors and local community to help anyone easily find meaningful service projects to benefit Maui’s environment

    Education programs, like Keiki Whalewatch and Ocean Camp that impact over 10,000 children each year, are developed in-house based on research conducted by Pacific Whale Foundation scientists or in collaboration with researchers from other organizations to inspire children to become environmental stewards

    Educational resources on marine life are developed and shared with schools to further inspire students to become future stewards of our planet’s ocean

    Internships offered for university students interested in marine research

    Eco-friendly products that make the cut through our green matrix are available at Ocean Stores, including reef-safe sunscreen and reusable straws

    Over 100,000 hours of employee marine science training

    83,954 items of debris removed from Maui beaches and waters since 2013

    Tobacco Free Beaches & Parks program impacts public attitudes and personal behaviors to reduce tobacco-related litter on Maui beaches

    Our Last Straw campaign has led to 29 local restaurants abandoning plastic straws

    Our RETHINK campaign urges the public to give up single use plastics by offering alternatives

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