Whale Trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to scientific research and public awareness of whales and their environment. Based on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, we conduct and support marine research and education programs around Maui and elsewhere throughout the Pacific Ocean.
Whale Trust was founded in 2001 by three individuals with over 60 years of collective experience in whale research and marine education worldwide. Meagan Jones, Flip Nicklin, and Jim Darling co-founded Whale Trust based on a shared belief that scientific research lies at the heart of meaningful marine education and conservation programs.
Conducting & Supporting Whale Research
Our scientific focus is on exploring and understanding the natural behavior patterns in whales – the most fascinating, difficult, least understood and least funded area of whale research today. We support field studies of living whales at sea – our own research, and that of other marine biologists around the world.
Inspiring the Next Generation
Whale Trust is not only a leader in whale research but is also deeply committed to inspiring the next generation of marine biologist. Through our school outreach initiatives, we engage with students to foster a love for marine science and conservation. Our Whale Tales Keiki Program provides young learners with hands-on experiences, connecting them with Hawaii’s humpbacks and their marine environment. Additionally, Whale Trust is proud to mentor graduate students, nurturing the future leaders in marine research. Our research, as featured in renowned documentaries and media outlets, continues to educate and inspire audiences worldwide, making a lasting impact on the preservation of our oceans.
Research led by Whale Trust scientists has been featured in documentaries on the BBC, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic International, National Public Radio, the Today show, PBS, NHK (Japanese National Broadcasting) and in National Geographic magazine (1999, 2007). Most recently, the team was featured in the award-winning giant screen IMAX film, Humpback Whales.
Our mission is to conduct, support, and promote scientific research and education programs on whales and the marine environment.
Our vision is a world that understands, appreciates, and protects whales and the ocean planet we share.
OUR CORE BELIEFS
We believe that science lies at the heart of environmental education and conservation.
Scientific research is the foundation on which meaningful education and conservation programs are built.
We believe that ocean health matters to us all.
As the largest and most visible mammals in the ocean, the health of whales speaks to the overall health of the marine environment. With the ocean covering more than 70% of the earth’s surface and containing 97% of all living matter, humans depend on the health of this ecosystem for our food, water, and air.
We believe that studies of whale behavior are paramount to effective conservation and management.
We study natural behavior and communication patterns in whales. Our research programs contribute to the understanding of natural behavior patterns in whales by conducting fully integrated studies of population biology, genetics, ecology, and behavior. The study of whale behavior is one of the most difficult, least funded, and least understood areas of whale research, yet it lies at the core of protecting the species.
We believe in the power of education to transform our connection to our natural world and our commitment to protect it.
Our education programs make our research findings available to the public and to policy makers in order to evolve meaningful management and conservation programs. By engaging students of all ages in our work, we hope to inspire the next generation of researchers.
We believe that collaboration is critical to our success.
Partnerships and collaborations play a key role in Whale Trust’s efforts locally and internationally. We believe that whales, by nature, encourage collaboration — they swim across ocean basins and cross international boundaries. It will take all of us working together to answer key questions about whales and their ocean environment, and to care for the planet we share.
One of the best places to observe whales is in the calm, shallow seas surrounding the Hawaiian Islands – the only known breeding and calving ground for humpback whales in the United States. The same sheltering conditions that attract humpbacks here each winter make Hawaii’s waters an incomparable living laboratory in which to study whales.
Indeed, much of the research Whale Trust supports can be done nowhere else on earth.
So it is here, on Maui, Hawaii, that Whale Trust makes it home.
Maui: One of the Best Places to Whale Watch
0ff the coast of Maui, researchers and whale watchers alike find one of the best spots on the planet to observe whales. The relatively calm, clear, protected waters off the coast of Maui combined with one of the largest aggregations of humpback whales in the State of Hawaii, make it an ideal location to watch whales. Whales can regularly be seen off Maui between the months of December and May.
A Sanctuary for Humpback Whales
The survival of any species is dependent upon successful reproduction, and as such, in 1997, the waters around most of the main Hawaiian Islands officially became a National Marine Sanctuary, specifically designated for humpback whales. Whale Trust’s researchfocuses on the reproductive behavior and natural communication patterns of humpback whales within the Sanctuary’s boundaries.