The Last Straw

Fact: 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown away every day in the U.S. alone. Shocking, right? That’s why, as of July 2016, PacWhale Eco-Adventures no longer serves plastic drinking straws on our vessels.

What’s the big deal about having a straw in my drink?

  1. Increased air pollution. Plastic production needs electricity, one of the leading sources of air pollution in the U.S., according to a recent Environmental Protection Agency report. Oil and gas are also needed which means drilling, a harmful process known for destroying habitats. Then, gas is needed to transport the plastic materials from producers to straw makers, electricity is used to power straw-making machines, and even more gas is needed to deliver straws to customers. Besides banning straws, PacWhale Eco-Adventures has implemented a number of other green features, including using high efficiency engines on our vessels, locally sourced catering for our cruises, and LED lighting for our offices.
  2. Increased ocean pollution. Plastic drinking straws are one of the top 10 items picked up at beach cleanups worldwide. And it’s not just straws; studies estimate that 10-20 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. Once there, plastic can harm marine life through ingestion and/or entanglement. All species of sea turtles and approximately one third of all seabird species have suffered from harmful effects caused by eating plastic. If swallowed, plastics can cause internal blockages leading to starvation and drowning. Plastics also contain chemicals which can stop animals from being able to reproduce. Entanglement in debris also threatens marine life. Ongoing efforts to recover the endangered Hawaiian monk seal have been hindered by entanglement deaths. If you want to help clean up plastic debris from our coastlines, you can sign up for Pacific Whale Foundation’s Volunteering on Vacation program. If you’re not on Maui, don’t let that stop you, grab a reusable bag and head down to your local beach to collect some rubbish today.
  3. Unsustainable growth of landfills. Every piece of plastic ever made, regardless of whether it has been recycled, still exists. Up to 43% of the worlds plastic ends up in landfills, a situation that is only going to get worse.

So take a stand with us and say no to plastic straws, and single use plastics in general. You’ll be helping to create a more sustainable earth with cleaner air, land, and oceans for generations to come.

 

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Whale-sized Fun for Maui Children at Sea!

As a part of our education efforts, every whale season we host numerous school groups participating in our Keiki (Hawaiian for “children”) Whalewatch program. Last week we concluded this season’s program with 1,518 children now having more knowledge about humpback whales.

Pacific Whale Foundation’s Keiki Whalewatch program is offered to create an impactful and interactive learning experience for our future generation. It is evident that many children who attend our program have yet to observe a humpback whale. After greeting the children, educators often ask the group, “who has never seen a whale?” Each time, several mini hands launch towards the sky in eager anticipation of the near adventure that will soon change that response. Designed so that children preschool through high school can experience these majestic animals in their natural habitat, Keiki Whalewatches allow children to connect with our marine environment, and for many, to see a whale for the very first time.

Exclusively available to schoolchildren and their teachers and chaperones, participants enjoy a unique 75 minute whalewatch complimented by a playful presentation in our Discovery Center classrooms. Each program is specific to their grade level and offered at a heavily reduced rate. Schools are also invited to apply for additional scholarship support through our No Child Left Indoors (NCLI) program. This year, four schools benefited from the NCLI program receiving a total of $1,159 in scholarship support to subsidize some of the field trip costs.

We want to thank all of our Members, volunteers, staff, and other supporters who help make it possible for the children to experience this fun and fact-filled, learning excursion. We also extend great appreciation to the schools who work hard to give their children these extraordinary educational experiences. Mahalo to Kamehameha Schools, Paia School, Kamaliʻi Elementary, Lokelani Intermediate, Wailuku Union  Preschool, Makawao B Headstart, Smart Start Christian School, Haiku Elementary, Peaceful Parent Happy Child, Kihei Elementary, Waiheʻe Elementary, Kula Elementary, Saint Anthony School, Waiheʻe Elementary, Children’s Garden Preschool, Christian Homeschool Co-op, Storybook School, Montessori of Maui, Wailuku Elementary, Princess Nahienaena Elementary, Lihikai Elementary, as well as our local home school groups.

Whale done, everyone! We had a great time and look forward to “sea-ing” you next year.

 

“Look Before You Book”: Pacific Whale Foundation becomes a Dolphin SMART Operator

At Pacific Whale Foundation, we believe in the importance of connecting the public directly to the ocean environment in an educational and interpretive manner. It is this basic principle that has guided our eco-tour operations for the past 35 years. That being said, we pride ourselves on our commitment to responsible and respectful wildlife viewing.

We are therefore excited to announce that Pacific Whale Foundation is now an official Dolphin SMART operator, one of only six such operators in the state of Hawai‘i. Research has indicated that dolphins, particularly those that inhabit near shore coastal areas, can be negatively impacted by continued human interactions. The Dolphin SMART program thus seeks to minimize this impact by developing a set of responsible wildlife viewing guidelines for tour operators. Dolphin SMART operators, for example, maintain a minimum distance of 50 yards to dolphins and are prohibited to engage in activities such as swimming with or feeding dolphins.

The public also plays an important role in the success of Dolphin SMART. For example, by choosing to book with Dolphin SMART operators, the public essentially invests in operators that have made a special commitment to marine wildlife. So remember, always look for the Dolphin SMART logo before booking a tour.

Visit our website to learn more about Pacific Whale Foundation’s commitment to wildlife. To view a complete list of certified operators, visit NOAA’s Dolphin SMART program page.

 

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Our Experts Make the Difference

What sets Pacific Whale Foundation eco-cruises apart from other standard ocean tours? If you already joined us on one of our many Eco-Adventures then you already know the answer. It’s our talented and passionate vessel staff.

Every Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventure cruise is led by a team of certified Marine Naturalists, all of whom hold graduate or undergraduate degrees in marine biology, ecology or related sciences. In addition, our staff must complete our rigorous certification program, which includes testing their knowledge about Hawaii’s marine environment, local geography and culture, presentation skills and Red Cross CPR, First Aid and Lifesaving Certifications. You can now meet our team of experts on our website.

PWF Awarded Sustainable Tourism Certification

Since its inception 35 years ago, Pacific Whale Foundation has remained committed to not only educating the public about the ocean environment, but also ensuring that our operations are as environmentally friendly as possible. We work to reduce our overall environmental impact, and have been an industry leader when it comes to practices like pumping, and not dumping, waste, replacing styrofoam containers with compostable products and mooring our vessels at snorkel sites instead of dropping anchor on reefs.

Pacific Whale Foundation guests and crew work together to remove a large net from the ocean during an Eco-Adventure

Pacific Whale Foundation guests and crew work together to remove a large net from the ocean during an Eco-Adventure

A main component of Pacific Whale Foundation trips is also inspiring passengers to take an active role in protecting our oceans – be it through making lifestyle changes or joining one of our many ocean advocacy campaigns.

We are excited to announce that the education and sustainability standards set by Pacific Whale Foundation, and other eco-tour companies throughout Hawai’i, are being officially promoted through the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association’s newly revamped “Sustainable Tourism Certification Program”. Formed in 1994, the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association (HEA) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for ecotourism as a means to protect Hawai’i’s natural environment and native cultures.

HEA Certification Logo Blue CERTIFIED Dates

Ecotours that receive the Sustainable Tourism Certification must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Provide a direct, personal experience of nature for customers;
  • Employ environmentally sustainable practices to ensure that their activities do not degrade the environment;
  • Maintain a written Sustainability Commitment Statement that guides operations and demonstrates a commitment to HEA Sustainable Tourism principles;
  • Make ongoing, positive contributions to the community annually, both economically and in contributing to local conservation initiatives;
  • Provide accurate interpretation of resources to guests during tour and ensure that staff are qualified and appropriately trained.

Pacific Whale Foundation is one of only five tour operators on Maui to receive the Sustainable Tourism Certification for the 2014-2016 cycle. We are a proud member of the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association and look forward to promoting the values of sustainability throughout Hawai’i’s tourism industry.