The mission of the Hawaiian Humpback Whale Center
is to educate island people and visitors about Hawai‘i’s
Humpback whale population and ocean environment through firsthand
photos and the latest scientific research. The Center is open
daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., is open to the public, and is
This year, the first reported Humpback Whale sighted off the
Kohala Coast on the Big Island of Hawai‘i was reported
Oct. 25 from the vessel Sea Smoke. The 30-foot whale put on a
show for the crew and guests by breaching, spouting, and blowing.
Humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawai‘i for the
winter and stay until mid-April. They come to breed, calve, and
nurse their young.
Approximately 5,000 whales migrate to Hawai‘i each year.
Whale “babies” weigh in at 1.5 tons and are 10-16
feet long. Adult females grow to 45 feet and weigh an average
of 45 tons, while the males weigh an average of 42 tons and average
42 feet in length.
In the northern waters that are their summer home, the whales
eat krill, plankton, and small fish, but in their Hawaiian winter
home they rarely eat! They are, however, extremely active during
their stay in Hawai‘i.
The interactions between the male, female, and baby whales
often result in incredible displays of breaches, tail-slaps,
fin slaps, loud singing, and spouting.
The Hawaiian Humpback Whale Center will also feature displays
of other residents of the Pacific Archipelago including the
endangered Green Sea Turtle, the Hawaiian Monk Seal, and
species of the Hawaiian island chain. Exhibits include information
on the near-shore coral reef system and cultural and historical
The Center features the work of Michael Nolan, a world-renowned
wildlife photographer whose pictures have appeared in international
magazines, books and calendars in over 35 countries. Local
photographers rounding out the exhibits include marine
naturalist Todd Buczyna,
who has captured whales on film for years, and Cat Sweeney,
a longtime Kona resident, dive instructor, underwater photographer,
sea captain, and writer.
Throughout the year the Center will also host guest speakers
including eminent marine naturalists, environmentalists,
researchers, public policymakers, nature photographers,
and others who will
talk about a wide range of ocean related subjects. Interactive
displays and whale and marine artifacts will be added
to the Center throughout the year as it expands.
Harmony Bassi is director of Sales at Ocean Sports, 808-886-6666