East Hawaii News

Peak of Whale Season Calls for ‘Vigilance’

February 11, 2016, 10:34 AM HST
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Humpback whale. NOAA file photo.

Humpback whale. NOAA file photo.

Hawai’i Island Humpback Whale Sanctuary Superintendent Malia Chow issued a reminder to the public this week, noting the importance of boater caution in the midst of the peak of humpback whale season in Hawai’i.

Large number of humpback whales roam the Hawaiian waters from November through May, peaking in the month of February.

“Whales are now here in large numbers, so it is important for everyone to be extra vigilant for their own safety and for the protection of the whales,” said Chow. “Two confirmed whale-vessel contacts have been reported in Hawai‘i this season.”

Boaters should use extreme caution and remain on the lookout for whales, especially calves who are difficult to see and rest just under the ocean surface.

Chow identified the following guidelines to help reduce vessel-whale collisions:

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Keep a Sharp Lookout – Look for whales and other hazards

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Watch Your Speed – Research shows that speeds of 10 knots or less to reduce frequency and injuries of collisions

Stay at the Helm – Always keep your hands on the wheel and the throttle

Keep your Distance – Once you’ve sighted a whale, stay at least 100 yards away as required by law

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Humpback whale are an endangered species protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Hawai’i State Law, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Under law, it is not permitted to approach a humpback whale closer than 100 yards by sea and 1,000 feet by air.

Ocean users may provide information on distressed animals to aid in the sanctuary’s monitoring and conservation efforts and are asked to report any collisions with whales or injured or entangled whales to NOAA by calling the 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840.

Hawai’i Island Humpback Whale Sanctuary is co-managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources. The sanctuary was established to provide protection to the humpback whales and their Hawai’i habitat.

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