The sanctuary works with its partners and the community to monitor and reduce threats to humpback whales. The effort is aligned with education, research, and other resource protection efforts, such as enforcement.

Humpback whale breaches after being freed from entanglement, while authorized rescue team holds up gear that was removed. Photo: J. Moore/NOAA, under MMHSRP Permit # 18786-02

A whale at surface level with an island in the background

Regulations and Guidelines

Humpback whales in Hawai‘i are protected by guidelines and regulations listed under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, state of Hawai‘i law, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

Photo: J. Moore/NOAA, under NOAA permit #14682

A whale entangled in marine debris

Threats to Whales

While humpback whale numbers in Hawai‘i have generally rebounded, threats such as harassment, collisions with ships, entanglements, and broad-based environmental change remain a concern. Entanglements result in the death of hundreds of thousands of whales world-wide annually.

Photo: J. Moore/NOAA, under NOAA MMHSRP Permit #18786-02

A persons tands on the bow of a ship near a breaching whale

Health and Risk Monitoring

The sanctuary assesses the health of and risk to Hawai‘i humpback whales through risk monitoring, by working with the on-water community, and by assisting other researchers.

Photo: M. Rybak/NOAA, under NOAA MMHSRP Permit #15240

Two people on a raft work to free an entangled whale

Large Whale Entanglement Response

The sanctuary coordinates an authorized, community-based response network to safely free whales from life-threatening entanglements and help gain information that will help reduce threats in the future.

Photo: R. Finn/NOAA, under NOAA MMHSRP Permit #932-1905

humpback whale mother and calf

How You Can Help

You can help by respecting the animals and their environment, helping the sanctuary monitor the animals from a safe and legal distance, and alerting the sanctuary and others to injured, entangled, or otherwise compromised whales by calling the NOAA Hotline at (888) 256-9840. The on-water community is the foundation of our monitoring efforts.

Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA permit #14682

A humpback whale swims along side 3 dolphins

Resource Protection Publications

Find books, abstracts, peer-reviewed publications, and reports involving Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary or staff.

Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA permit #20311

Dolphin jumping out of the water

Responsible Recreation

Knowing how to interact with ocean wildlife can help you make the right decisions when you encounter wildlife.

Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA permit #14097


Report an injured or entangled marine mammal via the NOAA Marine Mammal Hotline, 1-888-256-9840.

Suspect a close approach or other violation? Call the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline, 1-800-853-1964.