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Hawaii Viewing Guidelines: Detailed Guidelines

Overview | Detailed Guidelines | For Boat Operators | Recognizing Disturbance

Keep a safe distance - Please do not chase, closely approach, surround, swim with, or attempt to touch marine wildlife.

For humpback whales in Hawaii, Federal regulations prohibit approaching closer than: 100 yards (90 m) when on the water 1,000 feet (300 m) when operating an aircraft

For other species of whales, dolphins and monk seals the recommended distance for observation is:

  • 50 yards (45 m) when on the beaches or on the water
  • 1,000 feet (300 m) when operating an aircraft

Use extra caution in the vicinity of mothers and young and in other sensitive wildlife habitat such as feeding, nursing or resting areas.

For sea turtles, please remember that feeding, touching or attempting to ride them can cause distress. Please observe from a distance and allow them a clear escape route to deeper water. Never entice marine wildlife to approach you.

When on or under the water, please remember that the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is there to protect humpback whales. Disturbing the whales can disrupt vital calving, nursing and breeding behaviors.

Be Careful Not to Surprise Marine Wildlife.

  • Enjoy sea turtles from a distance in clear Hawaiian waters.
  • Loud noises and abrupt movements can startle and stress wildlife, which can react unpredictably, harming themselves or you.
  • Please keep your distance. Disturbing wildlife interrupts their ability to perform critical functions such as feeding, breeding, nursing, resting or socializing.

Never Feed or Attempt to Feed Marine Wildlife
Feeding marine wildlife can:

  • Alter their natural behavior and make them dependent on humans.
  • Deprive young animals from learning important survival skills.
  • Cause them to become sick or die from ingesting unnatural or contaminated food items.
  • Habituate them to humans and vessels, placing them at risk of injury.
  • Feeding or attempting to feed marine mammals is prohibited under Federal law.

Dispose of Trash Properly

  • Marine debris can be harmful to wildlife.
  • Animals can mistake plastic debris for food, which can be deadly.
  • Monofilament fishing lines and other plastic items can entangle and kill marine wildlife.
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