Boaters urged to slow down for humpback whales

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MAUI, Hawaii — As Kohola or humpback whales return to Hawaii waters, officials are reminding boaters to slow down and maintain a safe and legal distance around these annual visitors. Masu.


What you need to know

  • In waters less than 600 feet deep, boaters are required to maintain a speed of 15 knots or less (or a safe planned speed) to reduce the chance of collision with a whale.
  • When approaching or leaving a whale for observation, boat speed should be reduced to no more than 6 knots within 400 yards.
  • Officials are reminding boaters, kayakers, paddleboarders, surfers and drone users that it is illegal to get closer than 100 yards to humpback whales.For aircraft, less than 1,000 feet is illegal
  • The public is encouraged to report vessels that get too close to whales by calling the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 808-853-1964 or emailing respectwildlife@noaa.gov.

From November to May, thousands of humpback whales return to the island to breed, give birth, and raise their young.

“Hawaii’s humpback whale population typically peaks in January and February,” Kim Hamm, director of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said in a news release. “We remind boaters that collisions with whales remain a very real risk in the coming months, and we remain vigilant to reduce the risk to animals and people on board.” We would like to ask everyone to remain vigilant and reduce their speed in and around protected waters.”

In waters less than 600 feet deep, boaters are required to maintain a speed of 15 knots or less (or a safe planned speed) to reduce the chance of collision with a whale.

When approaching or leaving whales for observation, boat speed should be reduced to 6 knots or less within 400 yards.

Humpback whales are abundant in the waters of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on Maui. (NOAA/Ed Lyman, Permit Number 14682)

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Pacific Whale Foundation, and members of Hawaii’s “aquatic” community developed the speed recommendations. This recommendation can be found on the DLNR Boating and Marine Recreation Division website. Along with best practices.

Officials are also reminding boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders, surfers and drone users that it is illegal to get closer than 100 yards to humpback whales. For aircraft, anything less than 1,000 feet is illegal.

The public is encouraged to immediately report injured or entangled marine mammals to the U.S. Coast Guard on the statewide NOAA Marine Wildlife Hotline at 888-256-9840 or VHF Channel 16.

Entanglement can cause starvation, physical trauma, infection, and impingement on blood vessels, which can slow the animal down.

“By following regulations and recommendations, ocean users can reduce impacts to animals and their habitat, as well as monitor humpback whales in sanctuaries and nearshore waters,” said Ed Lyman, Hawaiian Islands humpback whale natural resource specialist. We can also play an important role in providing support.” National Marine Sanctuary.

The public is encouraged to report vessels that get too close to whales by calling the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 808-853-1964 or emailing respectwildlife@noaa.gov. You can also contact your local DLNR Conservation Resource Enforcement Division by calling the 24-hour hotline 808-643-3567 or via the DLNRTip app available on Android and Apple mobile phones. Masu.

Every year, whale surveys are conducted on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii. January 27th is the first whale count. Future tallies are his February 24th and his March 30th. Read here for more information and how to volunteer.

Sarah Yamanaka covers news and events for Spectrum News Hawaii. Contact her at sarah.yamanaka@charter.com.

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