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Reporting Violations & Emergencies

Please call the NOAA Hotline (1-888-256-9840) immediately to report an injured or entangled marine mammal.  The following information and guidelines may be used to help document or report marine mammal violations, strandings, and entanglements.

Humpback Whale Approach Violations NOAA Office of Law Enforcement 1-800-853-1964
Marine Mammal Emergencies and Monk Seal Sightings NOAA Fisheries 1-888-256-9840
Dead, Sick, Injured or Stranded Sea Turtles NOAA Fisheries 1-808-983-5730
Oil or Hazardous Material Spills U.S. Coast Guard 1-800-424-8802


Guidelines for Documenting Violations
Guidelines for Reporting Marine Mammal Strandings
Guidelines for Reporting Marine Mammal Entanglements
More Information



Guidelines for Documenting Violations

Humpback whales are an endangered species, protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Hawai`i State Law. It is illegal to approach a humpback whale closer than 100 yards by sea, and 1,000 feet by air.

Report suspected violations to the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. In order for law enforcement authorities to respond to a reported violation in a timely manner and to successfully apprehend and prosecute violators, certain information is critical.  This information must be accurately documented and reported to authorities immediately.

Remember: Witnesses are not to approach or contact violators.

1. Type of violation (e.g. approach, harassment, other)
2. Date
3. Time
4. Location of violation
5. Type of vessel/equipment used in violation (e.g., Color(s), Length, Name/Home port, Identification numbers, Other descriptions, Last known direction headed, Speed)
6. Weather on scene
7. Visibility
8. Sea conditions
9. Behavior of animals prior to, during, and after incident
10. Photographs/Video taken or available
11. Description of violation or comments
12. Reporting party's name
13. Temporary address & telephone number if non-resident
14. Permanent address & telephone number
15. Other witnesses

Documenting Violations Form



Guidelines for Reporting Marine Mammal Strandings

Whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals may occasionally become stranded in the shallow waters, or on the shores of the Hawaiian Islands. National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has management authority for stranded marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.  The Pacific Islands Marine Mammal Response Network* is headed by NOAA’s Pacific Islands Regional Office. This network responds to stranded marine mammals under the authorization of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (Permit # 932-1489-08 issued by NOAA).

Only those authorized and permitted by NOAA Fisheries may take part in a hands-on stranding response. However, the public can play an important role in the stranding response by doing the following:

What to do:

1. Report any stranded marine mammal to NOAA Fisheries as soon as possible. A 24-hour emergency number is available to take your call 7 days a week (1-888-256-9840). Calling the local police department also assures timely coordination with the network.

2. Report the following information:

a. Location of the stranded animal;

b. Species or description of the animal if species is not known;

c. Approximate size of the animal;

d. Condition of the animal (wounded, entangled, bleeding, dead, alive);

e. Stranding location in terms of accessibility for vehicles; and

f. Name and contact numbers for the person reporting the stranding. 

What will happen:

1. The hotline operator will contact the appropriate NOAA Fisheries representative.

2. The NOAA Fisheries representative will coordinate with the network to provide the appropriate response.

*The network enlists the help of volunteer veterinarians, biologists, and other agency personnel who have marine mammal experience and other expertise. As appropriate to the situation, network members will be called to participate in the emergency response. The network depends upon early receipt of detailed accurate information in order to organize a quick and appropriate response. Public cooperation is essential to the success of any stranding response and ultimately benefits the conservation of our protected marine mammals.

What not to do:

1. Never approach a stranded animal. Stranded animals, whether dead or alive, pose risks to human health and safety.

2. Do not allow pets to approach a stranded animal. Canine distemper and other diseases can spread between dogs and marine mammals. Please keep pets on a leash and at a safe distance from stranded animals.

Reporting Marine Mammal Strandings Form

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Guidelines for Reporting Marine Mammal Entanglements

Whales, dolphins, and other marine animals can accidentally become entangled in fishing gear and other man-made materials that are in the ocean environment. While rare, and often not immediately fatal, these entanglements can hinder the recovery of endangered populations. By following the information provided on this sheet, you can play a direct role in protecting marine wildlife. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) depends upon the public to report entangled marine mammals. Only those authorized by NOAA Fisheries may take part in a hands-on disentanglement response. However, the public can play a vital role in the disentanglement response by providing accurate detailed information in a timely matter.

What to do:

1. Report entangled marine mammals to NOAA Fisheries as soon as possible. A 24-hour emergency number is available to take your call 7 days a week (1-888-256-9840). Calling the U.S. Coast Guard (VHF channel 16 (156.8 Mhz)) also assures timely coordination with NOAA Fisheries.

2. Report the following information:

a. Location of the entangled animal;

b. Species or description of the animal if species is not known;

c. Approximate size of the animal;

d. Condition of the animal (wounded, entangled, bleeding, dead, alive);

e. Sea conditions at the time of observation;

f. Debris entangling the animal, including a description of where the animal is entangled;

g. If possible, take photographs or video that can be shared with NOAA Fisheries; and

h. Name and contact numbers for the person reporting the stranding.

What will happen:

1. The hotline operator will contact the appropriate NOAA Fisheries representative.

2. The NOAA Fisheries representative will coordinate the appropriate response.

What not to do:

1. Never approach an entangled animal. Entangled animals, whether dead or alive, pose risks to human health and safety.

2. Do not attempt to disentangle an animal without NOAA Fisheries authorization.

Reporting Marine Mammal Entanglements Form



More Information

Hawai`i's Marine Protected Species: A Handbook for Ocean Users
Provides information on the laws that protect humpback whales and other marine protected species in Hawai`i

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