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HomeScuba DivingMarine Mammal Naturalist Training Course Offered

Marine Mammal Naturalist Training Course Offered

Do you wish you knew more about Hawaii’s humpback whales? Do you find yourself wishing you had better answers to visitor questions about whales? Would you like to be better able to interpret whale behaviors for others?

If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, Pacific Whale Foundation and the Ocean Science Discovery Center invite you to enroll in the Marine Mammal Naturalist Training and Certification Course, offered during eight evenings in November and early December.

Through engaging presentations by experts, slide shows, video presentations and discussions you’ll gain in-depth knowledge about whale biology, behavior, cultural significance, conservation issues and more. You’ll also learn how to interpret whale behaviors in the capacity of a naturalist or guide.

The course begins on Tuesday November 11 and continues on Monday and Wednesday evenings through Wednesday, December 3. Each class is from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Ocean Science Discovery Center in Ma’alaea. The course includes a free whalewatch cruise.

At the conclusion of the class you’ll be eligible to take an exam to qualify for Pacific Whale Foundation’s Marine Mammal Naturalist Certification, a credential that is valuable for anyone in the visitor industry.

The cost of the course is $99. You can register for individual class sessions for $20 each. Pacific Whale Foundation members receive a 15% discount. A home-study version of the course will also be available.

The course has been taught each winter for 13 years by the staff of Pacific Whale Foundation. Instructors include Greg Kaufman, Pacific Whale Foundation President and Founder and co-author of the book, Hawaii’s Humpback Whales; Jonathan Hultquist, Pacific Whale Foundation Director of Naturalist Programs; Alison Roberts, Ocean Science Discovery Center Marine Research Specialist and Merrill Kaufman, Ocean Science Discovery Center Marine Education Specialist.

"Our Marine Mammal Naturalist Certification Course has trained hundreds of naturalists, guides, docents, visitor industry employees and individuals about the remarkable humpback whales of Hawaii," reports Jonathan Hultquist, course organizer and Director of Naturalist Programs at Pacific Whale Foundation. "We’ve trained staff from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Trilogy, Maui Ocean Center and other companies."

At the request of whalewatch companies on the neighbor islands, Pacific Whale Foundation has offered the class on Kauai, the Big Island and Oahu — and will be offering it on Oahu again in Decem

"For naturalists and others in the visitor industry, its not enough to know about Hawaii’s whales and ocean environment; it’s important to be able to interpret this information for the public," says Greg Kaufman, President and founder of Pacific Whale Foundation. "Our course helps participants develop those strong interpretation skills."

"There’s a real need for this type of training program in Hawaii," says Greg Kaufman, President and founder of Pacific Whale Foundation. "We are seeing an increasingly sophisticated, well-read visitor population. They want factual, updated information about the unique wildlife and environment they encounter here; programs like ours make it possible for those in the visitor industry to respond to visitor interest in Hawaii’s environment."

Kaufman believes that naturalist training programs also increase visitor support for conservation and wildlife management programs.

"For example, we are located in an important National Marine Sanctuary; naturalist training programs like ours are the best way to ensure that visitors will leave Hawaii with an appreciation of the Sanctuary and the whales that it protects," says Kaufman.

Pacific Whale Foundation, Maui ‘s oldest and largest marine research, education and conservation organization, was an early pioneer in humpback whale and dolphin research and has studied whales in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific for more than two decades.

For information or to register, call (808) 249-8811 or email them at

Cliff Etzel
Cliff Etzel
Cliff is the former Freediving editor of He is now a freelance journalist and film-maker.


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