Hawaii is home to a diverse range of fish and fauna, many of which are unique to the island. Unfortunately, Hawaii has been labeled the world’s “endangered species capital.” Alien species and illnesses have wreaked havoc on native creatures and the vegetation they rely on. Oahu Protection Wildlife Rules are important in this context.
More than 400 threatened and endangered species are listed by the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office across the state. There are a few species protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act that you may come across while on Oahu sightseeing tour.
List of Endangered Species:
The following are some of the most prevalent endangered species on the Hawaiian Islands that are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act:
- Spinner Dolphins (naia)
- Hawaiian Monk Seal (ilioholoikauaua)
- Humpback Whale (kohola)
- Turtles – Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (honu), Hawksbill (ea)
- Hawaiian Goose (nene)
Help Protect Hawaii’s Wildlife
Wildlife abounds in the vast, lukewarm pond that lapping at Hawaii’s shoreline. Some of these animals, such as humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals, and sea turtles, are protected by federal law as endangered species. The Marine Mammal Protection Act protects dolphins and other whales, even though they are not endangered.
The fascinating and easily observed marine animals of Hawaii are one of the reasons that nature-based tourism is a major component of the visitor market. On the Big Island, there are numerous tour boat companies and water-based activities dedicated to whale and dolphin watching.
During the winter humpback whale season, it’s normal to witness 40-ton whales breaching offshore with 15-foot pectoral fins, and resident spinner dolphins can be seen flashing through the surf at any time. On a Hawaii North shore tour, it’s not uncommon to see sea turtles foraging along the beach. And every now and again, an extremely endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal would haul up on a beach, sometimes with a pup.
The majority of commercial operators follow federal restrictions designed to protect Hawaii’s marine creatures including sea turtles from harm, harassment, and death. It’s probable that the average tourist isn’t aware of these guidelines and regulations. Laws are enforced, crimes are pursued, and fines are inflicted.
When viewing marine creatures on an Oahu sightseeing tour, remember the following rules and guidelines:
- From a safe distance, observe marine life. It’s advisable to consider binoculars.
- Keep a distance of at least 100 yards between you and humpback whales, 50 yards between you and dolphins, 50 yards between you and monk seals, and 10 feet (3 meters) from all sea turtles.
- An animal can approach or chase you, that’s completely lawful for animals. But it goes against the law to chase, touch, approach, surround or swim with marine mammals, including dolphins.
- If a sea mammal or turtle approaches, put the engine in neutral and let the animal pass.
- Any marine mammal should not be harassed, swum with, hunted, captured, or killed.
- Federal law makes it illegal to feed marine mammals.
- Limit yourself to 30 minutes of observation.
- If another vessel is in the area, avoid approaching whales or dolphins.
- Call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 (24 hours/day, 7 days/week) to report suspected violence.
- Note that you will have to pay fines for the violation of these rules.
You can also call the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Enforcement HOTLINE at 808-643-DLNR to report any wildlife infractions.