A view of the new NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Education Center.
NOAA recently opened a new Sanctuary Learning Center for scientists and the public at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Kihei, Maui.
In April, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, and two U.S. senators along with state and local community leaders participated in a grand opening ceremony for the center. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Hawaiian cultural practitioner Kimokeo Kapahulehua were recognized at the event for their vision, dedication, and support of the sanctuary and the new facility.
The center provides essential research facilities and education programs to enhance humpback whale protection in Hawaii.
"Scientists have an obligation to share what they know with the broader world. I know this facility will greatly enhance the sanctuary's education, research, and ocean protection efforts," said Dr. Lubchenco. "Here among the unique and pristine waters of this sanctuary, I'm reminded of the important connections we play in this beautiful ecosystem. We are grateful for the support Sen. Inouye, Kimokeo Kapahulehua, and others have provided to make it a reality."
The center provides expanded facilities for research and education programs that enhance humpback whale protection in Hawaii. In addition, this new facility offers additional opportunities for education on the marine environment and includes office and classroom space for school groups and public programs.
The facility will also enhance interaction with the greater Pacific and international marine mammal management community.
The new 4,600-square-foot, single-story learning center is located next to the sanctuary office building, adjacent to the historic Ko'ie'ie Hawaiian fishpond and sanctuary waters. Construction on the $6.5 million building began in 2004 and was completed earlier this year.