Experts urge caution as many mother, calf humpback whale pairs arrive in Hawaii
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Whale watchers, rejoice!
Numerous mother and calf humpback whale pairs have been spotted in Hawaii waters according to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
But as incredible of a sight as these majestic creatures are to witness, officials remind us that beachgoers and whale watchers play a crucial role in protecting these endangered animals.
Officials encourage ocean users to reduce their speed and keep a safe and legal distance around whales.
“Ocean users play an important role by helping monitor humpback whales in the sanctuary and nearby waters,” said Ed Lyman, Natural Resource Specialist at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
“By locating distressed animals, reporting and providing initial documentation and assessment of the animal — from a safe and legal distance — ocean users act like first responders and are the foundation of our conservation efforts.”
Humpback whale season in Hawaii generally runs from November through May.
Thousands of humpback whales return to Hawaii every year to breed, give birth, and nurse their young.
Here are some tips to keep both whales and beachgoers safe:
- Keep a safe distance: collisions with vessels are a risk to whales and humans. It is illegal to approach a humpback whale closer than 100 yards by any means by sea or drone and closer than 1,000 feet by aircraft.
- Maintain a safe speed: During whale season, boaters are asked to maintain a speed of 15 knots or less to minimize the risk of striking a whale. When directly approaching a whale to view it or departing from viewing, speed should be reduced to six knots or less within 400 yards. Recommendations for best boating practices around whales can be found here.
- If you see an entangled whale: if you see an injured or entangled marine mammal, keep a safe and legal distance and call the statewide NOAA Marine Wildlife Hotline at 888-256-9840 or the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 immediately.
- Reporting an issue: to report a vessel coming too close to a whale, call the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964, email email@example.com, or contact your local DOCARE office by phone, email, or on the DLNRTip app, which can be found here.
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