Humpback whales travel more than 3000 miles to mate, give birth and rest in the safe waters of the Maui Nui Basin. Because of the whale’s annual migration, Hawaii established an organization called the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, to work to protect these gentle giants during their stay in Maui’s water.
The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary focuses on the protection of humpback whales through education, research and entanglement response.
Onsite they offer an educational facility for all ages and work to train tour companies and collaborate locally to reach the public on issues regarding keeping our ocean environment healthy, reducing waste and following federal and state protections for humpback whales.
An important protection in Maui is the regulation that no one is to approach humpback whales within 100 yards. This means keep our distance to allow humpback whales to lead as natural a life as possible, not approaching with tour boats on whale watching trips, kayaks,, snorkeling, diving or swimming. In some rare cases swimming and snorkeling with whales is allowed for research purposes when permits have been issued to research groups by the sanctuary.
The sanctuary believes gaining information is the key to protecting humpback whales. That’s why research is such an important part of their work. Whether they are studying the whales environment or finding the source of an entangled whale, this information helps them create a course of action to better protect humpback whales and educate the public.
With help from volunteers like us at Ultimate Whale Watch and Snorkel, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary responds to whale entanglements with the hopes of freeing the entangled whales. Since 2003 they have freed 27 whales with help from the community!
The sanctuary trains first responders to safely approach the whales and with specific equipment and safety gear, attempt to cut fishing lines, ropes etc that may be binding the whale. If you see an entangled whale, do not try to free it, people had been seriously injured or died due to engagement the animal without proper gear or training. Best option is to call the hotline 1-888-256-9840.
How else can you help support humpback whales? Your whale watch or snorkel ticket with Ultimate funds our support vessel and first responders that assist with entanglement response as well as monetary donations to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. In your everyday life, your eco-minded decisions ultimate effect our humpback whales, so don’t forget to re-use and recycle, stay away from single use plastics and chemical sunscreens and always be respectful of our amazing marine life here on Maui and around the world!
For more info on Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary visit HawaiiHumpbackWhale.NOAA.gov