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NOAA Fisheries
Office of Protected Resources
Acropora palmata thicket on Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Andy Bruckner, 1996Coho salmon painting, Canadian Dept of Fisheries and OceansMonk seal, C.E. BowlbyHumpback whale, Dr. Lou Herman
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Hawaii Viewing Guidelines: For Boat Operators

Overview | Detailed Guidelines | For Boat Operators | Recognizing Disturbance

 

killer whales swim near boat
Killer Whales
(Orcinus orca)
Photo: NOAA


Humpback whale breaching
Humpback Whale
(Megaptera novaeangliae)
Photo: Deborah Glockner-Ferrar


 

How You Can Help
Responsible Wildlife Viewing
Report a Beached Marine Mammal
Report a Stranded Sea Turtle
Report Wildlife Harassment
Call NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement 24-hour hotline:
(800) 853-1964

Learn More about Protecting Wildlife

Multiple Vessels

  • Whales and dolphins are more likely to be disturbed when more than one vessel is near.
  • When several vessels are in the area, communicate with the other vessel operators to ensure that you do not cause disturbance.
  • Please be aware that cumulative impacts may also occur. You and your vessel may not be the only one that day to have approached the same animals.

Wildlife Behavior

  • Encounters with marine wildlife may cause stress to the animals even if it isn't obvious.
  • Limit your time with any individual or group of marine wildlife.
  • Marine mammals engaged in breaching and flipper/tail slapping may endanger people and/or vessels.
  • Marine wildlife may surface in unpredictable locations.

Manuevering

  • Pursuit of marine mammals is prohibited by law.
  • While on the water,you may find yourself in the presence of marine animals, and occasionally they may even approach you. Stay alert and be careful when maneuvering vessels around marine wildlife.
  • Leaving a viewing area has as much potential to disturb animals as your approach, and should be done carefully. Marine wildlife may surface in unpredictable locations.
  • Vessels traveling in a predictable manner are less disturbing to marine wildlife.When leaving the viewing area, slowly maneuver your vessel away from the animals.Actively look for surfacing animals- slow down and steer away from their direction of travel.Limit your time with any individual or group of marine wildlife.
  • Avoid excessive speed or sudden changes in speed or direction in the vicinity of wildlife.
  • Never attempt to herd, chase, or separate groups of marine mammals or females from their young.
  • If you need to move around marine wildlife, do so from behind.
  • If marine wildlife approaches your vessel, put your engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass. Avoid approaching marine wildlife head-on or cutting across the animals' direction of travel.
  • Do not encircle or trap them between boats or between boats and the shore.
  • Always leave the animals an "escape route."
  • When leaving the viewing area, slowly maneuver your vessel away from the animals.
  • Avoid approaching marine wildlife head-on or cutting across the animals' direction of travel.
  • Actively look for surfacing animals. Slow down and steer away from their direction of travel.
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