We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles

United States
Level Contributor
768 posts
25 reviews
Save Topic
Humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles

Is it possible for me to see leatherback sea turtles (the really giant ones) on the Big Island and if so, how and when (season)? I'd really love to snorkel with them if possible but will be happy if I can see them on land.

Also I'd like to take a zodiac boat type tour like the ones in Maui to see the humpback whales so I can be closer faster to the whales. What companies on the Big Island offer that type of a tour?

Thanks

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
36,653 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles

The leatherbacks hang out in deep waters offshore. I've only seen the green sea turtles. Please do not attempt to snorkel with turtles. You are supposed to stay away from them in the water. If they move through where you are snorkeling, that is different.

Here's a page from Malama na Honu (take care of the turtles), with info on the different species here:

http://malamanahonu.org/turtles.asp

Here is some info from NOAA

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/education/hawaii/

This is their Hawai'i code of conduct for viewing marine wildlife:

"Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Viewing "Code of Conduct"

The following guidelines for viewing whales, dolphins, monk seals and sea turtles in Hawaii have been provided by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries, and the State of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources. NOAA recommends these viewing guidelines, however, they do not replace Federal or state law. Pursuit and feeding of marine mammals is prohibited by Federal law.

Remain at least 100 yards from humpback whales, and at least 50 yards from other marine mammals (dolphins, other whale species, and Hawaiian monk seals). Do not swim with wild spinner dolphins.

Observe turtles from a distance. Bring binoculars along on viewing excursions to assure a good view from the recommended viewing distances.

Do not attempt to touch, ride, or feed turtles.

Limit your time observing an animal to 1/2 hour.

Marine mammals and sea turtles should not be encircled or trapped between boats or shore.

If approached by a marine mammal or turtle while on a boat, put the engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass. Boat movement should be from the rear of the animal.

By being aware of the steps to responsible marine mammal and sea turtle viewing, you can help reduce the potential to inadvertently harm these animals or violate Federal or state law. Together, we can ensure marine wildlife viewing will be as rewarding as it is today for many generations to come.

Laws and Marine Mammal Viewing

All whales, dolphins and seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA). Humpback whales, sperm whales, monk seals and sea turtles are further protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) and under Hawaii State Law. The National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) provides additional protections for humpback whales and their habitat."

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
36,653 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles

Re whale watching tours, the only one that consistently gets recommendations here is Dan McSweeney.

http://www.ilovewhales.com/index.html

His boat is not a Zodiac. It doesn't sound like the zodiacs you mention are observing the guidelines on viewing distance, from the way you describe them, but of course can't tell without a distance estimate.

United States
Level Contributor
768 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles

Sounds like I'll be hard pressed to see the leatherback turtles. Thanks for sharing the marine wildlife viewing regulations. Wasn't planning on chasing the turtles or anything. The year my sister went to maui, a bunch just swam by her while she was snorkeling. My other sister had one come up to her boat in maui. After their experiences, they thought it might just be a common occurence (but in maui and didn't know what it was like on the big island) so I was curious.

I'll go with Dan for the humpback whale tour so thanks for that recommendation as well.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
36,653 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles

Turtles do swim by ... they don't try to avoid people in the water. Still, it is better if people don't deliberately choose the turtle habitat as the place to snorkel.

The Big Island visitors seem to more conscious of not chasing turtles than what I read on the Maui forum. Not talking about DE's, but rather the reports on things done in Maui often include seeking out turtles in the water. Over here we talk more about where to see them on land. (Lots of places.)

Some green turtle hangouts that are easily accessed: Kahalu'u, Place of Refuge, Punalu'u, Richardson's beach, Mauna Lani hotel beach, Anaeho'omalu beach (and in water), Kuki'o beach (Four Seasons).

From what I hear, Dan McSweeney is the man when it comes to knowing whales, so you should enjoy that!

Kona, Hawaii
Level Contributor
4,236 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles

Dan McSweeney is the man.. not only is his tour amazing buy he will share so much information with you.

6. Re: Humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 20 March 2011, 05:46