Saturday, April 20, 2024

Operation Kohola Guardian Aims To Reduce Risk To Humpback Whales In Hawaiian Islands


The US Coast Guard is partnering with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement and the Hawaii Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement during the humpback whale season around the Hawaiian Islands.

Operation Kohola Guardians is a mission that takes place during peak whale season, from January to March, that was designed to monitor and protect humpback whales, enforce humpback whale regulations, provide outreach and education to the community and respond to distressed whales.

Thousands of humpback whales seasonally use the waters around the Hawaiian Islands as their principal breeding and calving wintering grounds. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is one of 15 National Marine Sanctuaries designated as special areas set aside for long-term protection and conservation and provides extremely important habitat for humpback whales.

The Coast Guard is reminding mariners and visitors that certain activities are prohibited and unlawful, including:

  • A vessel, individual, or drone approaching within 100 yards of any humpback whale.
  • Operating an aircraft within 1,000 feet (305m) of any humpback whale, except as necessary for takeoff or landing from an airport or runway.
  • Harassing, hunting, capturing, or killing, or any attempt to do any of these actions, of any humpback whale in the sanctuary.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Nic Iannarone, the chief of enforcement at US Coast Guard Sector Honolulu:

“Operation Kohola Guardian is a shining example of how the Coast Guard, alongside our invaluable partners at NOAA and the Hawaii Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement, effectively safeguard the fragile marine ecosystems of the Hawaiian Islands. Through collaborative efforts, shared intelligence, and coordinated patrols, we ensure the safety of protected and iconic species like humpback whales, while simultaneously fostering responsible practices amongst ocean users. This collaborative approach is not only crucial for enforcing regulations, but also for educating the public and fostering appreciation for the delicate balance of our marine environment.”

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.