Mission & Vision

‘A Voice for Whales’ by Selket Kaufman


To protect the ocean through science and advocacy, and to inspire environmental stewardship.


Our vision is to be the people’s environmental organization for the protection of the world’s whales, dolphins and other marine animals living wild in their natural habitat. We believe that it is essential to involve the public in our mission. We encourage you to become a part of our global community of people who care about the future of our oceans and marine wildlife.


Greg Kaufman is the Founder and was the Executive Director of Pacific Whale Foundation, as well as an author of numerous books and scientific publications on cetaceans. A pioneer in non-invasive humpback whale research off of Maui, Hawaii in the mid-1970s, Greg founded Pacific Whale Foundation in 1980. He committed his new organization to educating the public, from a scientific perspective, about whales and their ocean habitat. Greg oversaw the longest running humpback whale research program off of Australia, (started in 1984), and Ecuador.

An innovator in sustainable marine ecotourism, Greg was a highly sought after advisor to governments, agencies and other stakeholders on best practices for responsible dolphin and whalewatching programs. He was also one of the world’s leading advocates for whales and whale protection issues. Greg was an Invited Participant to the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee and was a contributor to the Sub-Committees on Whale-watching, Southern Hemisphere Whales, and Bycatch.

Greg served on the Hawaiian Island Humpback National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Committee, and was a contributing member to the Southern Oceans Research Partnership. He co-led the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Regional Workshop on Marine Mammal Watching in the Wider Caribbean Region, and was the U.S. delegate in a recent international workshop held in Patagonia to develop a Five Year Global Plan for Whalewatching.

Greg leaves behind his wife Selket Kaufman and his four daughters. His legacy lives on with his ohana at Pacific Whale Foundation which will carry on his mission to protect the ocean through science and advocacy, and to inspire environmental stewardship.

Social Enterprise Model

*Forward-looking nonprofits are recognizing that it’s impractical and risky to rely solely on donations and grants to fund their work. More and more nonprofits are entering into businesses to fund their mission.

PWF was an early pioneer in this area. Early on, we found that we could fulfill part of our mission — to educate the public about whales and the ocean — by offering ecotours. At the same time, these ecotours could help fund our work and introduce our organization to potential supporters.

PWF fully owns PacWhale Eco-Adventures. It is the sole shareholder and owner. PWF owns all of its assets (boats, computers, equipment, etc.) All of the profits generated by PacWhale Eco-Adventures are retained by PWF and used to further its mission, making PacWhale Eco-Adventures a social enterprise.


Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) is a pioneer in the use of non-invasive scientific techniques to gather data about humpback whales. Our research efforts began in the mid-1970s in Hawaii, using shore-based, vessel-based, and aerial observations to study humpback (baleen) whales.

In 1996, PWF researchers began studying odontocetes (toothed) whales and dolphins that reside year-round in Hawaiian waters. Working with the University of Hawaii, we also conducted the first comprehensive assessment of marine and avian wildlife at Molokini Marine Preserve. Other early studies included a 7-year assessment of Maui’s threatened coral reefs using line transect surveys (data collection along systematically mapped routes), to evaluate the health and diversity of nearshore coral organisms.

PWF was also early adopters of photo-identification (or photo-ID) to identify and track individual humpback whales over time. This process involves photographing flukes (the underside of the tail), to identify shapes, markings and pigmentation patterns that are unique to each whale. In the early years, we used photographic slides to manually compare and match new sightings to previously identified whales. Today we capture data with digital cameras and use database software to catalog matches.

Some of these initial projects are ongoing and we invite you to learn more about our current science-based initiatives. Much of our work is conducted aboard our dedicated research vessel, Ocean Protector. Our studies are also supported by PacWhale Eco-Adventures, including whalewatching and snorkel ecotours that act as “platforms of opportunity” for the collection of scientific data.

You Can Help


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.

You can help! Donate to our $5-Fundraiser and Sign Up for the Latest Updates & Specials