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  • NOAA - Hawaii's Humpback Whale Season Underway

Hawaii's Humpback Whale Season Underway

Ocean users reminded to maintain safe distance

NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary reminds the public that Hawaii's humpback whale season is underway. Although the number may vary from year to year, scientists estimate that as many as 12,000 humpback whales migrate from their feeding grounds off Alaska to breed, calve and nurse their young in Hawaii's warm waters. While some whales have already arrived, the majority will be in Hawaii between January and March.

Hawaii's iconic humpback whales are protected by state and federal agencies. Approaching humpback whales when on or in the water within 100 yards or within 1,000 feet by air is illegal.

"Collisions between whales and vessels occur annually, presenting serious risks to boaters as well as the whales," said Edward Lyman, large whale entanglement response coordinator for the sanctuary. "Whale calves are particularly vulnerable because they are difficult to see and surface more often."

Humpbacks can also get entangled in fishing gear, which can result in starvation, physical trauma and infections, and may contribute to vessel strikes since the animals are less mobile.

The Hawaiian Islands Large Whale Entanglement Response Network, a community-based effort led by the sanctuary, supports large whale response efforts statewide. The network involves many state and federal agencies, including Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources, NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as private non-governmental organizations, fishermen, researchers and other individuals.

If you see an injured or entangled marine mammal, keep a safe and legal distance and call NOAA's Marine Mammal Stranding and Entanglement Hotline at 888-256-9840 or the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 immediately. If you are reporting a vessel coming too close to a whale, call the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964 or email respectwildlife@noaa.gov. Additional guidelines and safety tips can be found at: https://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/res/ocean_etiquette.html.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is administered by a partnership of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawaii through the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The sanctuary works to protect humpback whales and their habitat through research, education, conservation and stewardship. Join us on Facebook.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our other social media channels.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary seeks volunteers for 2018 Ocean Count

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is looking for volunteers for the 2018 Sanctuary Ocean Count. Now in its 23rd year, volunteers count whales and record their behaviors from more than 60 shore sites on the islands of O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, and Hawai‘i.

Through Ocean Count, the public can learn about humpback whale population, distribution, and behavioral trends while being involved in a volunteer monitoring effort. The Sanctuary Ocean Count will be held on January 27, February 24, and March 31 at selected sites from 8:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Interested volunteers may register online at http://sanctuaryoceancount.org/register. Additional information is available on the sanctuary's website at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov or volunteers may call 808-725-5923 (O‘ahu, and Hawai‘i) and 808-246-2860 for Kaua‘i.

Volunteers are required to register prior to participating. Registration will close one week prior to the event date.

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