Boating with Whales – What’s the Solution?

Image taken under NOAA Fisheries Research Permit 21321

To summarize:

During whale season, November through April of the following year, especially in water depths of 100 fathoms or less, all boaters should post a lookout and maintain a top speed of 15 knots or less to reduce collisions with whales.

Waters around the Hawaiian Island’s represent the principal breeding/calving grounds for the majority of the humpback whales in the North Pacific. As such it is a very important place and time for these animals. While we enjoy the same waters, and in some case the animals themselves, we need to do our part to ensure their protection.

There are safe ways to get a closer look:

  • if approaching a whale to observe it, do so at a suggested maximum speed of six knots within 400 yards,
  • do not approach any closer than 100 yards of any whale,
  • when done observing the whale, leave the area as you entered, at a recommended speed of six knots or less until >400 yards away from the whale.  Remember 15 knots or less is highly recommended while transiting elsewhere.

Things to consider:

  • you never forget an encounter with a whale (positive or negative),
  • your appreciation for these magnificent creatures can only grow,
  • by being a prudent mariner and following these guidelines you will likely have more positive experiences with whales,
  • following speed limits suggested in these web pages can prevent whale injuries and deaths,
  • while these recommendations are based on best available science, they also represent prudent measures to make waters safer for whales and people sharing the waters around Hawaii with them,
  • hitting a 40-ton whale is likely to cause damage to one’s vessel and/or injury and even fatalities to passengers and crew,
  • following speed value guidance suggested in these web pages can prevent whale harassment and injury.

Be Prudent, be Aware, go Slow and leave Space. Give the whales a PASS

You Can Help Protect Marine Species in Hawai`i


1. What TIME of Year?

2. What DEPTH?

3. What SPEED?


5. What’s the SOLUTION?


Return to Boating with Whales start page