January 12, 2022, 11:44 a.m. HST
* Updated January 13 at 5:08 a.m.
The non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) has launched an innovative whale-watching program exclusive to students in Maui County.
The program, called Keiki Whalewatch Plus One, teaches children the importance of protecting the ocean and encourages them to practice responsible environmental stewardship. The floating classrooms are run by members of the foundation’s education team.
The new program allows children and teens to bring a parent or guardian on a whale watching weekend focused on exploring humpback whales in their natural habitat. It includes a personalized 1.5-hour whale-watching ecotour and take-home gear to learn about humpback whales and their marine environment.
The program is offered one Sunday per month in February, March and April and costs $40 for one student and one parent/guardian. Up to three additional students can participate with the adult for $15 each. Students must attend a school in Maui County to participate in this program.
Maui County schools also have the opportunity to participate in PWF’s original Keiki Whalewatch program designed for school classes and groups. This whale-watching lighthouse can accommodate 50 to 100 passengers and includes lessons and optional activities for students to complete before and after whale watching. Teachers will also have the option to schedule a 15-30 minute live video Q&A session with a member of the PWF education team.
Tours are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-10:30 a.m. through March 31 in accordance with Maui’s whale watching season. The cost is $13 per student and $20 for additional adults who do not meet the recommended adult-to-student ratios listed on the foundation’s website.
Introduced in 2020 and offered free to classrooms across Maui County, the Virtual Keiki Whalewatch program introduces students to whales through one-hour live sessions offered weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays. The virtual program features captivating footage filmed off Maui that simulates an in-person PWF whale sighting and a library of online lessons that can be shared with students to enhance the program experience through hands-on activities.
The virtual program can accommodate up to 70 students and costs $50 per program. Maui County schools should contact [email protected] for a discount code when booking.
Visit https://www.pacificwhale.org/education/keiki-whalewatch/ to see availability and schedule programs.