Categorized | Featured, Sci-Tech

Marine mammal rehab facility opens in Hilo

Video by David Corrigan | Big Island Video News


The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and NOAA Fisheries Service announce the grand opening of the Hawai‘i Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility (HCRF), the only facility in Hawai‘i and the Pacific region dedicated to the humane care and treatment of injured, sick, and out-of-habitat cetaceans.

Dozens of representatives from Federal, State, and local agencies, elected government officials, administration, faculty, staff and students from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, school children, members of the community, and the dedicated volunteers of the Hilo Marine Mammal Response Network were invited to attend the event. The ceremony will started at 10 a.m. with a blessing, officiated by Kahu Leifi Ha’o, and a traditional Hawaiian Pāpahi Kanaloa/Mō Ka Piko Ceremony, officiated by both Roxane Kapuaimohalaikalani Stewart and Kumu Hula Manaiakalani Kalua. Speakers include Dr. Jason Turner (HCRF Director), Chancellor Rose Tseng (UH-Hilo), Mr. David Schofield (NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Response Coordinator), and Dr. Gregg Levine (NOAA Contract Veterinarian).

The facility’s 25,000-gallon saltwater pool at UH-Hilo’s Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center is authorized by NOAA Fisheries to house 18 species of whales and dolphins, up to 20 feet long and can accommodate 1-2 small whales or dolphins at a time. The facility also includes several trailers for an office, storage and a food prep kitchen. HCRF was developed with an initial $100,000 grant from NOAA Fisheries, but the cetacean facility will depend on volunteers and monetary donations for animal feed and care which run about $350 a day.

“This is a volunteer based effort, as much of the work will be done by the more than 100 volunteers in the Hilo Marine Mammal Response Network (HMMRN) comprised of University of Hawai‘i at Hilo students and community members” said Dr. Jason Turner, Director of HCRF.

In addition to caring for the sick and injured animals, the HCRF and NOAA Fisheries will educate and involve the local community in the protection and preservation of Hawai‘i’s marine mammals. For example “it is critical that stranded dolphins and whales not be pushed back into the water – they strand for a reason, and experts need to be able to properly assess them if we are going to be able save them,” said Turner.

Other partners in this project include UH-Hilo’s Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC), where the facility is housed, NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Region, state of Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), U.S. Coast Guard, Hawai‘i Pacific University, Dolphin Quest, and Cascadia Research Collective.

The Hawai‘i Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility (HCRF) was initiated in the fall of 2009 by Dr. Jason Turner (Director) and Ms. Jennifer Turner (Assistant Director) both of UHHilo. HCRF is committed to the humane care and treatment of injured, ill, and out-ofhabitat cetaceans, and supports the development and dissemination of new knowledge in an effort to support the conservation of marine species. This project can accept tax-free donations as part of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation. For more information on the HCRF please visit our website at

The Hilo Marine Mammal Response Network (HMMRN) was initiated in the fall of 2006 by Dr. Jason Turner of the Marine Science Department at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The HMMRN is sponsored by NOAA Fisheries and the division of aquatic resources (DAR). For more information visit our website at

One Response to “Marine mammal rehab facility opens in Hilo”

  1. Claudia says:

    Nice to see how monetary priorities are in order. Maybe the kids on furlough can volunteer to help in their free time.


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