Vessels and Technology

Noaa workers on aboat photograph an approaching whale

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary operates R/V Koholā, a 38-foot rigid hull inflatable boat specifically designed for large whale research and entanglement response. The ability to drive from the upper helm allows the captain to see whales easily through the water, ample bench space puts more observers on deck, and the extended rail around the bow is critical when tagging whales or throwing grappling lines to entangling gear.

The vessel also carries a 16-foot inflatable vessel used for close approach to entangled whales due to its maneuverability; this vessel is stored aboard the R/V Koholā and can be quickly inflated should an entanglement report occur.

In addition to large whale research and response operations, Koholā serves as a dive platform to assist partners with coral reef and ecosystem studies.

R/V Koholā has an overall length of 38 feet, and beam of 10.5 feet. It has twin 225 horsepower outboard engines, a fuel capacity of 250 gallons, and a range of 65 to 80 nautical miles. It carries a crew of two to four and a science party of six to eight for single-day trips.