Humpback whale sanctuary meeting set

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and government agencies will sponsor a workshop on Kaua’i Nov. 14 to remind boaters to use safe practices when encountering endangered Hawaiian humpback whales and other protected marine species.

The meeting will be held at the Kaua’i Sanctuary office at 4370 Kukui Grove Street, Suite 206, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The workshop also is being sponsored by the National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Area Office, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries for Law Enforcement and the division of aquatic resources and division of conservation and resources enforcement of state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Observance of federal and state protection rules and regulations, the purpose of the workshop, will help perpetuate protected marine species, including Hawaiian green sea turtles and monk seals, said Jean Souza, Kaua’i liaison officer with the Kaua’i office of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale.

The population of North Pacific humpback whales is estimated to number about 6,000 individuals, with about 4,000 whales using the Hawaiian Islands for breeding.

“We need to do things in a reasonable way, so that the wild population is not adversely affected,” Souza said. “We want to get the word out (on protective rules).”

Under federal law, a person or a boat can come no closer than 100 yards of a humpback whale. It is also unlawful for an aircraft to fly within 1000 feet of a whale.

For the first hour of the workshop, presentations will be made by representatives from the sponsoring agencies, Souza said.

During the second hour, David Matilla, a science and whale rescue coordinator with Hawaiian Humpback, will conduct a slide show presentation on research and conservation efforts related to the humpback whales, Souza said.

The Hawaiian Islands is believed to be the largest of three known breeding grounds for the Northern Pacific humpback whales.

The other choice breeding grounds are in the gulf of California and waters off Japan and the Marianas Islands.

Adult humpbacks vary in length from 40 to 50 feet, the females being slightly longer than the males, and weigh up to 55 tons.

For information on the Kaua’i workshop, call 246-2860.

Similar workshops are planned on the Big Island on Nov. 13, Oahu on Nov. 19 and Maui on Nov. 20.

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