Coast Guard monitors whales in Honolulu Harbor

14th Coast Guard District NewsHONOLULU – Two humpback whales that visited Honolulu Harbor Thursday have reportedly returned, prompting the Coast Guard to resume broadcast notifications to mariners Friday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu were notified by the crew of the tugboat Henry Senior that two humpback whales had followed them into Pier 51 at approximately 11 p.m. Thursday.

The Coast Guard has issued a broadcast notice to mariners to ensure vessel crews keep a sharp lookout for the endangered whales. The whales have not been spotted since Thursday evening. The Coast Guard does not plan to launch a boat to enforce a safety zone, but will continue to broadcast to mariners and monitor the situation.

It is not known why the whales came into the harbor, why they returned or if they are the same two spotted on Thursday.

The Coast Guard, Department of Land and Natural Resources and members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitored two whales that swam into Honolulu Harbor, Thursday. The Coast Guard was out enforcing a safety zone around the whales, which is in place at all times, for these animals. The two humpback whales swam throughout the harbor from approximately 7:20 a.m. until they departed on their own at approximately 2 p.m.

“In Hawaii, we benefit both culturally and economically from the annual humpback whale migration and Coast Guard members are working hard, together with federal and State partners, to ensure the waters are safe for both our local marine life as well as our boating community”, said Eric Roberts, Coast Guard District Fourteen marine mammal response coordinator.

Protecting the nation’s natural resources is one of the Coast Guard’s five strategic goals. The Coast Guard is the foremost agency with the capability and authority to project a federal law enforcement presence into the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and upon the high seas. The Coast Guard’s strategic plan for marine protected species is called Ocean Steward.

Coast Guard objectives include assisting in preventing the decline of marine protected species populations, promoting the recovery of marine protected species and their habitats, partnering with other agencies and organizations to enhance stewardship of marine ecosystems and ensuring internal compliance with appropriate legislation, regulations and management practices.

The Coast Guard uses a wide variety of multi-mission assets to carry out its strategic goal of protecting the maritime environment. The 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, used to enforce a safety zone around the whales Thursday, is part of the Coast Guard’s recapitalization efforts to ensure the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct its many missions. One of the many benefits of the RBM, aside from its multi-mission capabilities, is the jet drive used to power the vessel. The jet drive can easily maneuver the RBM if a whale gets too close, without the risk of harming the endangered species. Hawaii’s first RBM was delivered in June 2010.

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