Maui Ocean Center and Kīhei-based Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary are celebrating “Welcome Back Whales Day” on Jan. 21.
The event at Maui Ocean Center’s Harbor Plaza overlooking Māʻalaea Bay will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The humpback whales, or koholā, migrate to Maui’s warm waters to mate and give birth, primarily from December through March, with the peak in January and February.
In addition to observing wild whale activity on the aquarium’s Māʻalaea Lookout Ramp (binoculars are provided), activities will include various educational stations, keiki art projects, games and ongoing marine-themed videos playing nearby in the Makai Theater.
“We look forward to having staff and volunteers from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary help us highlight this inspiring marine mammal,” said Maui Ocean Center General Manager Tapani Vuori. “Koholā are a significant part of Hawaiian culture as well as our island community.”
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is celebrating its 30th anniversary, while Maui Ocean Center is turning 25 this year.
Additional “Welcome Back Whales Day” participants include Oahu-based Pacific Islands Regional Office NOAA Fisheries and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.
Guests also can expect to learn about other marine life, including sea turtles and monk seals.
“Welcome Back Whales Day” celebrations are included with aquarium admission, and all ages are welcome to participate. Guests can also learn more about whales at Maui Ocean Center’s “Humpbacks of Hawai’i” exhibit and 3D Sphere Experience film, which plays daily each half hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.