Maui News

11th Annual Whale Tales at Ritz-Carlton Kapalua

February 21, 2017, 2:01 PM HST
* Updated February 21, 2:03 PM
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The 11th Annual Whale Tales event will take place Feb. 24-27 at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

For over four days, renowned scientists, photographers, filmmakers, and conservationists will come together for presentations, whale watches, films, a live auction and an education/art expo.

Whale Breech. PC: Ellen Raimo/ Kīhei, Maui (1.12.17)

More than 15,000 people have attended the event since 2006 and contributed more than $500,000 to whale research around Hawai‘i.

Presentations are free and open to the public on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons at The Ritz-Carlton. A $20 per day donation is encouraged to support Whale Tales’ beneficiaries.

Ocean activities began on Monday, Feb. 20 and will continue throughout the week.


The Education and Art Expo runs throughout the weekend, featuring hands-on learning opportunities with local nonprofit organizations, marine photography and art displays, and showcases from local businesses.


Benefit whale watches with the experts will be held throughout the weekend, with daily whale watches each morning and all day on Monday, Feb. 27.

Tickets start at $30 per person for whale watches and ocean activities. For specific information and to book your tickets visit here.

The event will feature a special screening of the award-winning film “Humpback Whales,” featuring Whale Trust Maui researchers Meagan Jones and Jim Darling. Director Greg MacGillivray, will also be on hand to present “National Parks Adventure.”


Whale Tales is hosted annually by Whale Trust Maui, a nonprofit dedicated to whale research and education. This year’s presenting sponsors include Makana Aloha Foundation, MacGillivray Freeman Films/One World One Ocean, Pacific Life Foundation, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, Bendon Family Foundation, and Mark and Judy Ellman and their Mala, Honu and Frida’s restaurants.


Wednesday, Feb. 22

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – VIP Luncheon prepared by Mark Ellman in honor of Whale Tales Presenter Denise Herzing

Thursday, Feb. 23

7:30 to 9:30 a.m. – Whale Tales Stand Up Paddle

Friday, Feb. 24 at Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.- Education and Art Expo

2 to 4:30 p.m. – Presentations and book signing with Dr. Denise Herzing

Saturday, Feb. 25 at Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Benefit Whale Watches with the Experts

12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Education and Art Expo

1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Presentations and book signing with Dr. Robin Baird

Sunday, Feb. 26 at Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

7:30 to 10:30 a.m. – Benefit Whale Watches with the Experts

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. – MacGillivray Freeman Films presents Humpback Whales

Noon to 5:30 p.m. – Education and Art Expo

1:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Presentations and book signing with Dr. Hal Whitehead

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Maui Premier of National Parks Adventure – Presented by MacGillivray Freeman Films

Monday, Feb. 27

7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. – Benefit Whale Watches

Presenter Lineup

Robin Baird, Ph.D., Cascadia Research Collective
Rachel Cartwright, Ph.D., The Keiki Kohola Project
Denise Herzing, Ph.D., Wild Dolphin Project
Anke Kuegler, University of Hawaii Manoa
Ed Lyman, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
Greg MacGillivray, MacGillivray Freeman Films
Ralph Pace, Freelance Underwater Photographer
Daniel Palacios, Ph.D., Marine Mammal Institute
Robert Pitman, Ph.D., U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service
Hal Whitehead, Ph.D., Author of The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins

With Special Guests:
Dr. Jim Darling, Whale Trust Maui
Dr. Meagan Jones Gray, Whale Trust Maui
Flip Nicklin, Whale Trust Maui and National Geographic Photographer
Jason Sturgis, Whale Trust Maui

Featured Artists and Photographers:
Kate Eiffler, Ceramics
Douglas Hoffman, Photography
Chelsea Kohl, Digital Art
Marty Wolff, Photography

Event highlights include:

•Double feature Sunday, Feb. 26. MacGillivray Freeman films will present its new film, “National Parks Adventure.” This is the only opportunity to see this film on Maui. Plus, a special return screening of “Humpback Whales,” which was filmed largely on Maui and features several research groups, including Whale Trust Maui.

•Stand Up for Whales, a guided stand-up paddle tour on Thursday, Feb. 23 hosted by Jodelle Fitzwater and Miranda Camp and sponsored by Raw Elements.

•Dr. Denise Herzing, who has spent more than 30 years studying Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the Bahamas. Her efforts to communicate with them were the focus of her 2013 TED Talk.

•New insights into the cultural lives of whales and dolphins. Dr. Hal Whitehead sharing how whales and dolphins, like humans, learn behavior from one another.

•Insights from author of the new book “The Lives of Hawai’i’s Dolphins and Whales,” Dr. Robin Baird, into how and what we’ve learned about the 11 species that live in the oasis of the Hawaiian Islands, including acoustics, photo-identification, genetics, and satellite tagging.

Whale Tales 2017 sponsorship packages include VIP passes, premium seating, private reception tickets, and a complimentary whale watch with Flip Nicklin ($500 and above). Other whale watches can be purchased in advance here or by calling (808) 572-5700.

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