Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is uniquely charged with the mission to protect humpback whales and their habitat in Hawai‘i through education, science, and resource protection. Science is integrated into all aspects of the sanctuary's activities, from cutting-edge research to community outreach.

Photo: NOAA, under NOAA permit #20043

man on a boat using a telescope

Research and Monitoring

The sanctuary works with numerous partners to conduct research on the biology and behavior of humpback whales and to monitor trends in the population.

a whale at the surface of the water

About the Sanctuary

The Hawaiian Islands are the principal breeding grounds for the north Pacific humpback whale population. Approximately half of the population is believed to migrate to Hawai‘i each winter and spring.

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

a group of researchers on a boat

Information for Researchers

The sanctuary encourages researchers to conduct work in sanctuary waters and to contact our staff for help, advice, facilitation, or collaboration.

a women on deck working on a recovered buoy


The sanctuary is a leader, collaborator, and/or partner in many research efforts.

a whale's tail above the water's surface

Research Archive

SPLASH was an international cooperative research project that developed to understand the abundance, population structure, and potential human impacts on humpback whales across the entire North Pacific Ocean.

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