Research and Monitoring

an image of a man looking through a telescope on a boat

The sanctuary leads and collaborates in research projects that assess the population of humpback whales in Hawai‘i and their use of sanctuary waters. Studies of humpback whales and their activities include documenting whale distribution and abundance, examining whale behavior, and monitoring potential human impacts.

a whale on the surface of the water

Assessing Trends

The sanctuary plays a key role in assessing trends in the whale population of Hawai‘i by conducting research and coordinating communication among stakeholders.

Photo: T. Rose/NOAA, under NOAA permit #15240

digial reconstruction of a whale

Whale Behavior

Much about humpback whale behavior remains a mystery. The sanctuary uses a variety of tools to examine what whales do when they slip under the surface and out of view.

digial reconstruction of a whale

Acoustic Monitoring

Humpback whale song is the main source of underwater sound in Hawai‘i during winter. The sanctuary uses acoustic monitoring to track the occurrence and distribution of whales.

digial reconstruction of a whale


The sanctuary conducts both shore-based and vessel-based surveys each breeding season to help measure whale abundance in the Maui region.

researchers checking gear

Other Research

The sanctuary assists and collaborates with other institutions that complement the sanctuary's research mission, and also supports the work of graduate students.