Maui News

Pacific Whale Foundation Celebrates Start of Whale Season

November 5, 2018, 11:01 AM HST
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The Pacific Whale Foundation celebrates 39 years of service with its annual “Welcome Home the Whales” event held over the weekend, and a 10-day Online Auction to benefit the Keiki WhaleWatch Program.

Each year, thousands of humpback whales travel 3,000 miles or more from their northern feeding grounds to the waters of Maui to mate, give birth and care for their young calves.


The annual “Welcome Home the Whales” celebrated the whales’ return with an inspiring two-hour ecotour led by certified Marine Naturalists. The whales were welcomed with a traditional Hawaiian blessing at sea, followed by kahiko hula performances.

“Our koholā are our ancestors,” said Kanani Enos, who conducted Saturday’s blessing aboard Pacific Whale Foundation’s 110-passenger vessel Ocean Quest, “They are the wisdom keepers of the ocean. A physical manifestation of the god Kanaloa. Their appearance in our waters every year bless us and carry the hope of new beginnings, that the wisdom of our kūpuna will be carried on to our future generations. The health and vitality of their life cycles mirror the health of our world’s oceans and on a deeper level the health of us all here on the planet, as we are all connected.”

“This is one of our most favorite opportunities to share some of what we’ve learned about these majestic creatures over the past 39 years with visitors and members of our Maui community,” said Kristie Wrigglesworth, Pacific Whale Foundation Acting Executive Director. “We want everyone to be able to experience our mission work in order to become inspired environmental stewards and fellow ocean protectors, and to come together as a community to honor the whales.”


The Pacific Whale Foundation’s 10-day Online Auction also kicked off over the weekend.  The auction serves as a benefit for the PWF’s Keiki Whalewatch Program which now reaches more than 3,000 students each year. Through Pacific Whale Foundation’s 2018 Online Auction, the goal is to sustain this program into 2019 and to help ensure that all Maui County children are able to enjoy outdoor environmental education programs. In the future, the goal is to make this program accessible to all Hawai‘i students.


“The Keiki Whalewatch Program is especially important because it allows students to engage in kinesthetic learning and provides educators with a unique opportunity to enrich the minds of their students in new and engaging ways,” said Kelly McHugh, Director of Marketing and Development, “Children need science role models. Learning science through direct inquiry helps develop critical thinking and self-efficacy, and it improves grades across the board. The evidence is clear. Plus, seeing whales in person is a simply unforgettable experience.”

With over 100 items valued at $60,000 total, the goal is to raise $20,000 for the Keiki Whalewatch Program. Bidding is open Nov. 10 to 19 at

Together, these events help to raise critical funds that support the nonprofit Research, Education and Conservation efforts of Pacific Whale Foundation.

A Humpback Whale surfaces off the coast of Maui. PC: Pacific Whale Foundation.

A humpback whale spouts as guests snap photos. PC: Pacific Whale Foundation.

Two Hawaiian practitioners look out over the ocean as a humpback whale surfaces. PC: Pacific Whale Foundation.

A Pacific Whale Foundation worker guides a group of keiki through an informational activity. PC: Pacific Whale Foundation.

A PWF instructor uses a model humpback whale to provide educational information to a group of keiki. PC: Pacific Whale Foundation.

A PFC instructor guides a group of keiki as they observe humpback whales. PC: Pacific Whale Foundation.

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