Humpback Whales and Sea Turtles
Operating Near Humpback Whales is using an ocean area where there are humpback whales.
- All ocean users, including vessel operators, personal watercraft (PWC) operators, kayakers, paddlers, windsurfers, swimmers, divers, etc., must:
- Not chase, approach closely, surround, swim with, or attempt to touch humpback whales.
- Stay at least 100 yards away from humpback whales.
- Vessel operators, including PWC operators, also should:
- Stay at least 300 yards from a whale that is in a designated cow/calf area.
- Approach humpback whales slowly and carefully beside and parallel to them while staying at least 100 yards away when operating in other state waters.
- Have an observer on board, in addition to the operator, from November through May to watch for whales.
- Travel at a slow, safe speed in areas where whales may be located.
- Be prepared to take action immediately to avoid a whale in their path.
- If a whale approaches your vessel, stop immediately and put the engine in neutral until the whale passes.
- Go around whales from behind while staying at least 100 yards away.
- Not chase a whale, approach a whale head-on, cut a whale off from deep water, cross in front of a whale, surround a whale, come between a mother and her calf, or leapfrog or overtake a whale.
- Keep the time spent viewing the whales to less than 30 minutes.
- Make sure the whales have a clear escape route.
- Leave the area cautiously if a whale becomes upset.
- Make sure no one on the vessel feeds the whales or touches a calf.
- Vessel operators are not required to stay a specific distance away from sea turtles. However, the Hawaii DLNR recommends that vessels stay at least 150 feet away from the turtles, if possible. Operators may be guilty of a federal or state violation if they get close enough to sea turtles such that the turtles or their natural behavior patterns are disturbed.
- You must not feed, touch, or attempt to ride sea turtles.
- Many of the rules and guidelines for operating near humpback whales apply to sea turtles also. For more information, visit the NOAA website.
Sea turtles are protected by federal and state laws.