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Traveling Consciously – Protecting Hawaii’s Marine Life

an animal swimming in the water

Whether you are relaxing on the beach or on a snorkel tour its important to remember to respect the land and wildlife while in Hawaii. Residents throughout the islands are making serious efforts to protect marine life that are critical to our ecosystems.

When visiting, always remember to keep a safe distance and do not touch any sea life, even though you may be tempted. Recently, a visitor was seen riding a distressed baby humpback whale. Not only could this endanger the whales life, but there can be serious legal consequences for the visitor.

You may even see signs or ropes on the beach around the Hawaiian Monk Seal. This is because it is a Federally and State protected animal on the verge of extinction. Please be mindful of these signs and do not approach or touch the animal. Monk Seals can be very aggressive, especially if they are with their calves.

Here are some helpful tips while visiting:

  • Hawaiian Monk Seals – Please give them the space they need to rest and don’t attempt to push them back into the water. If approached by a seal, move away to avoid interaction. If you’re in the ocean, cautiously exit the water.
  • Sea Turtles – Stay at least 15 feet away and do not touch them. It is illegal to touch a sea turtle.
  • Humpback Whales – This important regulation prohibits approaching humpback whales by any means within 100 yards (90 m) when on or in the water.
  • Dolphins – No swimming with, approaching, or remaining within 50 yards of Spinner Dolphins.

These animals are protected under federal laws like the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. For your safety and theirs, do not touch or harass turtles, seals, whales, or dolphins. When viewing them, maintain a safe distance.