Humpback Whales
Humpback Whales

Photograph courtesy of National Marine Fisheries Service


Map of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Off the north shore of Kauai, the north and south coasts of Oahu, the four-island areas of Maui County, and the northwest portion of Hawaii

Protected Area
1,400 square miles (3,626 square kilometers)

Date Designated
November 1992

Humpback whale breeding, calving, and nursing grounds
Coral reefs
Sandy beaches

Key Species
Humpback whale
Pilot whale
Hawaiian monk seal
Spinner dolphin
Green sea turtle
Trigger fish
Cauliflower coral

Cultural Resources
Native Hawaiian traditional practices
Native Hawaiian fishpond
Archaeological sites
Historic shipwrecks

Every fall thousands of gargantuan North Pacific humpback whales journey from their summer feeding grounds in the frigid waters off Alaska to the tropical seas that wash the lush main islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. In these waters, the site of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the whales mate, calve, and nurse their young.

The sanctuary is the only place in the United States where humpbacks reproduce: It is also the best place to hear their haunting underwater singing. Visitors to the sanctuary may see playful young whales practice breaching or adult males lunge furiously at each other as they vie for an available female. The humpbacks share the sanctuary’s coral reef-studded habitat with green sea turtles, dolphins, monk seals, sharks, and many species of fish, including the raccoon butterfly fish, so named for the black patches around its eyes.

For more information,
check out NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale profile:

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
726 South Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96753

Tel: +1 808 879 2818
Fax: +1 808 874 3815
Sanctuary Web site:


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