Hawaii’s Effort to Save the Whales

Michele Carbone humpback whale

A humpback whale in the waters of Waikiki – courtesy of Beth Carbone.

Every year, humpback whales travel from the cold waters of the Pacific off the coast of Alaska to Hawaii’s warmer waters to breed. Recently, the quality of life for these gentle giants has begun to improve, but that has not put authorities at ease.

State and federal scientists, government officials, and law enforcement have all kept their attention focused on the whales and the environment in which they live. Tour boats allowing people to get up close and personal with the animals, fishing boats and the nets with which they work all pose environmental threats to humpback whales.

Operation Kohola Guardian aims to protect the migrating whale population, as well as educate the public on their habits and lifestyles in order to prevent any negligent accidents or mistakes. The U.S. Coast Guard has actively patrolled the shores of Maui to ensure no boats were in harm’s way of the humpback’s migration route or breeding waters, as all boats are required to maintain a distance of no less than 100 yards from all whales.

Humpbacks often fall victim to being struck by boats and their propellers, entanglements in fishermen’s nets, and water pollution. Almost all tour boats have a set of guidelines for passengers that outline what not to do when in proximity with humpback whales, but negligence is sometimes unavoidable. Even an action as simple as littering can have damaging effects on the whales’ ecosystem.

However, Hawaii officials are beginning to see a decline in boating related incidents with whales. More and more individuals sailing all kinds of boats are beginning to improve in their safety practices when in the presence of whales. Officials have stressed that these practices are for the safety of people in addition to the whales. Many boaters tend to reach speeds much higher than they’re able to control, leading to accidents of all kinds, which are heightened during the humpback whale’s mating season.

Maintaining a safe distance, a safe speed, and being alert for any whales in the area is crucial for all boaters in the waters of Hawaii during their mating season. Scientists and law enforcement are ensuring that all locals and tourists are aware during this time for the betterment of humpback whales, and the safety of each and every visitor.


Information provided by http://www.civilbeat.org/2017/02/how-hawaii-is-saving-whales-from-fishermen-and-tourists/

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