Sanctuary: Hawaii had 9 whale, boat collisions last season

HONOLULU — There were at least nine collisions between humpback whales and boats last season, a marine sanctuary said.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary found the mammals suffered various injuries in the collisions, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

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Most of the injured whales were young, including calves and sub-adults, sanctuary Natural Resource Management Specialist Ed Lyman said.

Many of the humpback whales, which can weigh up to 40 tons (36 metric tons), suffered propeller injuries. Others had superficial injuries and one suffered a gouge that was not life-threatening, Lyman said.

Thousands of humpback whales return to Hawaiian waters each year to breed, give birth and nurse their young.

Humpback whale season in Hawaii generally runs from November through May. The peak normally occurs between January and March, but whales may be encountered in limited numbers beyond those months.

The Maui sanctuary asked boaters to navigate carefully to avoid running into the mammals.

“Even though we are halfway through the season, a good number of humpback whales are in the sanctuary and nearby waters,” Lyman said. “It’s still a reminder to everyone that it’s still whale season and there are a lot of whales there.”

The sanctuary suggested posting lookouts to scan the waters ahead and to the side of boats to prevent collisions with marine life, obstructions, divers, and other vessels.

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Slower speeds can reduce the risk of collisions with the animals, the sanctuary said.

Federal regulations prohibit approaching within 100 yards (91 meters) of whales. The regulations apply to vessel operators, kayakers, paddle boarders, windsurfers, and swimmers.

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