|Recommendations from DLNR, NOAA and non-profits call for no more than 15 mph in boat speeds|
when whales arrive. Photo from NOAA
|This humpback was snagged by fishing gear.|
Ed Lyman, of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said, “We’ve been saying for years now, how important slower and more prudent speeds are. The available data suggests that transit speed, when around whales, should be 15 knots or less.
“Everyone wants to avoid a whale strike, so these recommended speeds will help mariners too,” Lyman said. He equated a fast-moving boat around whales to a speeding driver in a school zone. On a recent trip, guests were treated to multiple instances of mother Humpback whales teaching their calves to breach.
For the past year, representatives from Pacific Whale Foundation, NOAA, DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources, tour operators, private boaters, fishers, and other community members "have worked on a set of recommendations to keep both whales and watchers safe," says the DLNR statement.
|Only research boats like this one from NOAA with a research permit are allowed|
to approach humpbacks closer than 100 yards. State, federal and non-profit
experts recommend cutting boat speed to 15mph whenever a
humpback shows up nearby. NOAA photo
“We really wanted to make it a collective effort and have all the agencies, plus voices from stakeholders and others involved in this. Close to universal agreement? Yes…it seems most everyone who contributed is happy with the 15-knot underway recommendation,” said Jeannine Rossa, with the DLNR Division of Aquatics, who serves as the state co-manager of the whale sanctuary.
The key recommendations resulting from the collaboration include: When approaching and departing whales, reduce vessel speed to six knots when within 400 yards. Post a lookout. Pay close attention to time of day and time of year, as whales and their calves winter in Hawaiian waters.
The studies found that as boats approach whales at higher speeds, the animals would change direction, indicating they are not comfortable with the presence of vessels. Their speed changes, and their dive and respiration rates change.
Humpback whales in U.S. waters are federally protected. It is illegal to approach humpback whales within 100 yards, including by boat, kayak, drone, when swimming, or by any other vessel or means.
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HAWAI'I TOURISM AUTHORITY HAS PROVIDED A GRANT FOR MELE & LEI MONTH, produced by Volcano Art Center. The $9,850 appropriation through HTA's Community Enrichment Program is matched with local funding. The live, in-person Mele & Lei series of events will start on May 1, which is May Day and Lei Day. It will continue for a month of music, hula and lei making with local
practitioners, musicians and halau.
|Volcano Art Center, with Niulani Forest & Trail Enhancement & |
Forest Fair, is the recipient of a Hawai'i Tourism Authority grant.
Photo by Jesse Tunison
|The non-profit Nāʻālehu Theatre will hold events in Kona|
and Waimanalo with a Hawai'i Tourism Authority grant.
ROOT & RISE PRESENTS: NATURE AND ART AS THERAPY, Friday, Feb. 18, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. This is a free group that uses interaction with nature, creativity, and community to address mental health wellness, awareness, and destigmatization. To reserve a spot or for more info, call 617-543-8065.