Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Media Contact:

Christine Brammer
808-397-2651, ext. 252


NOAA'S Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to Hold Statewide Boater Workshops

October 7th, 2008

With the start of humpback whale season in Hawaii, NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary will host a series of free public workshops around the state beginning Nov. 6 to educate boaters about safe boating practices around the endangered whales.

At the workshops, the sanctuary’s marine mammal response manager will share guidelines for safe and legal whale watching, tips on avoiding dangerous contact with whales while boating, new humpback whale research, and maps of humpback whale distribution around the Hawaiian Islands.

As many as 10,000 humpback whales visit Hawaiian waters every year. These acrobatic, 45-ton marine mammals attract wildlife enthusiasts, but they can also pose safety hazards to mariners. Dangerous vessel-whale collisions occur every year in Hawaii, and boaters who sail too close to whales are also at risk when the animals surface, breach, or slap their massive tails or flippers.

Humpback whales are protected in Hawaii. Federal regulations prohibit approaching within 100 yards of the whales when on or 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 throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Humpback whale season in Hawaii generally runs from November through May, with the peak in humpback abundance occurring from January through March. The whales congregate in ocean waters less than 600 feet deep throughout the main Hawaiian Islands and are frequently encountered at or near the surface, and the sanctuary urges boaters to be extra cautious on the water during whale season.

The first workshop on Nov. 6 will be held at the Maui Ocean Center in Maalea, Maui. The complete workshop schedule is available on sanctuary’s Web site at

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is administered by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the state of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit