Maui News

Humpbacks Leave After Visit to Honolulu Harbor

January 5, 2012, 8:48 PM HST
* Updated January 5, 8:50 PM
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Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers maintain a safety zone around two humpback whales in Honolulu harbor near Pier 29 today. Photo by DLNR-DOCARE.

By Wendy Osher

A pair of humpback whales made an unexpected visit to Honolulu Harbor today, creating a temporary obstacle for shipping operations.

Crews from the Coast Guard and Department of Land and Natural Resources set up a safety zone around the whales to protect the endangered species.

Authorities say the humpbacks were likely a mother and its yearling, with unconfirmed reports of four additional whales seen earlier in the morning.

The whales entered Honolulu Harbor early Thursday morning and spent time within the harbor near Pier 35, and later Pier 29.

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The pair moved out of the harbor in the afternoon and were headed out to sea by 1:45 p.m.

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Officers from the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement patrolled the harbor and maintained a safety zone around the whales.

Boaters are reminded to be alert and watch for whales to avoid whale strikes.  The humpback season in Hawaii runs from November through May, and vessel operators are required to stay at least 100 yards away from them at all times.

“We are grateful for the coordinated efforts of DOCARE, the Coast Guard, Honolulu Harbor Marine Traffic Control, and NOAA, who together ensured the safety of both the whales and boaters today,” said Elia Herman, State Co-Manager of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “We also appreciate the efforts of ocean users who first sighted and reported the animals in the Harbor.”

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To report an injured, stranded, or entangled marine mammal, the hotline numbers that the public can call are:

  • NOAA Marine Mammal Hotline: 1-888-256-9840
  • DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) statewide hotline: 643-DLNR (3567).

State officials say injured, sick or entangled animals can be unpredictable and dangerous.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary lies within the shallow warm waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands and constitutes one of the world’s most important humpback whale habitats, according to state officials.

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