The following guidelines for viewing monk seals, dolphins, sea turtles and whales in Hawaiʻi have been provided by NOAA and the State of Hawaiʻi’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. Please remember, the pursuit and feeding of marine mammals is prohibited by Federal law.
- Remain at least 100 yards from humpback whales (law regulation) and at least 50 yards (best-practice guidance) from other marine mammals. Do not swim with wild spinner dolphins.
- Observe sea turtles from a distance. Remain 6 to 10 feet away (best-practice guidance) from sea turtles on the beach or in the water.
- Do not attempt to push a sleeping (basking) sea turtle on the beach into the water. Basking is normal behavior in Hawaiʻi and sea turtles should be allowed to rest undisturbed.
- Do not attempt to touch, ride or feed monk seals, dolphins, sea turtles and whales.
- Marine mammals and sea turtles should not be encircled or trapped between boats or shore.
- If approached by a marine mammal or sea turtle while on a boat, put the engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass.
- Limit your time observing an animal to 1/2 hour.
- Use binoculars and zoom lens to assure a good view from the recommended viewing distances.
For more information on responsible viewing:
- Hawaiʻi Viewing Guidelines
- West Hawai‘i Voluntary Standards for Marine Tourism
- West Hawaiʻi Marine Mammal Response Network
- Responsible Marine Wildlife Viewing
- Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles (DLNR)
- Stranded, entangled, or injured marine mammals, to NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Hotline at 1-888-256-9840
- All seal sightings to the NOAA Fisheries’ Monk Seal Hotline at 808-220-7802
- Sick, injured or dead sea turtles to NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Turtle Stranding Program
- Oahu: 808-725-5730 (Monday-Friday 7am-4pm) or 808-286-4377 (Weekends, after hours and holidays)
- Kauai: 808-274-3344
- Maui: 808-286-2549 (Kihei) or 808-286-2899 (other areas)
- Hawaiʻi Island: 808-286-4359 (Hilo), 808-881-4200 (North Kona), or 808-327-6226 (South Kona)
- Any illegal activities related to protected species to the Department of Land and Natural Resources Enforcement at 808-643-3567 or NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964
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Please support these tour operators!
Dolphin SMART Operators
|Hawaii Nautical and
Port Waikiki Cruises
|www.hawaiinautical.com and www.portwaikikicruises.com|
|Ocean Joy Cruises||oceanjoycruises.com|
|Star of Honolulu- Hoku Naia||www.hokunaia.com|
Certified Ocean-Related Ecotour Operators
|Atlantis Adventures – Oahu, Maui, Hawai‘i (Gold)||www.atlantisadventures.com|
|Trilogy Excursions – Maui (Gold)||www.sailtrilogy.com|
|Hawaiian Paddle Sports – Maui (Silver)||hawaiianpaddlesports.com|
|Jack’s Diving Locker – Hawai‘i (Silver)||www.jacksdivinglocker.com|
|Kayak Kaua‘i – Kaua‘i (Silver)||www.kayakkauai.com|
|Pacific Islands Institute – O‘ahu (Silver)||explorethepacific.com|
|Wild Side Specialty Tours – O‘ahu (Silver)||sailhawaii.com|
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) policy statement on harassment activities:“Interacting with wild marine mammals should not be attempted, and viewing marine mammals must be conducted in a manner that does not harass the animals. NMFS cannot support, condone, approve or authorize activities that involve closely approaching, interacting or attempting to interact with whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals or sea lions in the wild. This includes attempting to swim with, pet, touch, or elicit a reaction from the animals.”