Categorized | Environment

NOAA hosts whale safety workshops


NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Office of Law Enforcement is hosting a series of boater workshops to help vessel operators stay safe and operate within the law during humpback whale season.

The public workshops, which begin this month, will review guidelines, tips, and regulations concerning vessel-whale avoidance and safe and legal whale watching.

New information and recent research also will be discussed. For the complete schedule of workshops visit the sanctuary online at

“Vessel collisions are recognized as a major source of injury and death for endangered whales in Hawaii,” said Allen Tom, acting sanctuary superintendent and Pacific Islands Regional Director. “It’s important for boaters to be extra vigilant during whale season, for their own safety and the protection of these magnificent animals.”

As many as 12,000 humpback whales winter in Hawaiian waters each year. These acrobatic, 45-ton marine mammals attract wildlife enthusiasts, but vessel-whale collisions pose a serious injury threat to whales and
boaters. Ocean users also are subject to risks when whales surface, breach, or slap their massive tails or flippers.

Humpback whale season in Hawaii generally runs from November through May, although whales may be encountered in limited numbers during other months. The usual peak in humpback abundance occurs from January through March.

Endangered humpback whales are protected in Hawaii. Federal regulations prohibit approaching within 100 yards of whales when in the water, and 1,000 feet when operating an aircraft.

These and other federal marine mammal and endangered species protection regulations apply to all ocean users, including vessel operators, kayakers, and paddle boarders, throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Humpback whales congregate in ocean waters less than 600 feet deep throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. Mariners may also encounter humpback whales at the surface over deeper waters, however. Ocean users are urged to take caution during the humpback whale season by keeping a sharp lookout, traveling at a slow, safe speed and always staying at the vessel’s helm.

Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is administered jointly by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The sanctuary works to protect humpback whales through research, education, conservation and stewardship.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.

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One Response to “NOAA hosts whale safety workshops”

  1. Mel Wills says:

    Why are their not workshops on all Islands NOAA? I did call my local sanctuary office and I have not recieved an answer?


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