Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Do whales prefer 13 knots or 10 knots?

by Larry Geller

No one has asked the whales, obviously. But after attorney Isaac Hall said something (which I did not hear but read about in the live blogging over at Planet Kauai I thought I would check further.

Charley's note was:

[Attorney Isacc Hall:] Just informed today that DLNR has issued new whale policy that safe speed is 10 knots.

So I called Jeff Walters, the whale sanctuary co-manager. He might be as close to whale opinion that one can easily get. He would also know about any new policy.

Mr. Walters clarified that there is not a new policy, but DLNR has analyzed the data and has a new statement of fact, a new talking point.

Previously, if I understand this correctly, it was that collisions that occurred when a vessel was proceeding at less than 13 knots were less frequent and of less severity. Their recent review led them to change this. They found that at speeds less than 10 knots the data shows that there is significantly less injury or death. They could not talk about frequency because it's less clear, according to Mr. Walters.

He explained that it's not a speed limit. Each operator must make a decision about how fast to proceed. If there is a choice between 10 knots and 15 knots, for example, and it doesn't make a difference which is better, then it would be good to reduce speed to 10 knots.

Again, I didn't hear how the attorney presented this new fact. It is new, but it's a little different from what I thought before calling.

Of course, a law intended to protect the whales from Superferry collisions could set a speed limit. If it does that, what speed is best? In light of the new recommendation, should it be 13 knots or 10 knots or something else? I'll bet that whales, if we could ask them, would prefer the slower speed.

I'm glad I'm not a judge.

The hearing is in recess until 1:30 p.m. See previous post for info on how to follow the action on Maui.


I'm still blown away how you tracked down and reported, before the judge even ruled, the answer to this dispute the parties HAD JUST argued about. That is awesome.

Thanks. Gotta give people some reason to keep coming back here.

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