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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Hawaii Marine Animal Response (Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals, Protection of Endangered Species

Mission: To undertake substantial actions that result in the preservation, recovery and stewardship of Hawaii’s endangered, threatened or protected marine species.

Results: During 2017 our hotline recorded nearly 2,900 sightings of protected marine species which involved field response and support activity more than 2,500 times. Each field response is important to help species population research, to identify potential animal health concerns, to create a trail of important photo documentation and to build and reinforce public stewardship of our endangered, threatened and protected marine species. In addition, nearly 400 proactive surveys for animals, on often-times remote shorelines, offshore islets and near-shore waters covering more than 1,600 locations, were conducted by team members to provide critical data for research. During 2017 alone, our team was engaged in, or performed, over 70 escalated actions, stranding responses or animal interventions and based on the first half of 2018 statistics, that number will grow to nearly 200 escalations and interventions by end of 2018. Our activity helps save animals from injury or death caused by fishery interactions, disease and potentially harmful human interactions. On average during 2017, members of our volunteer and staff team were active performing field response to sightings, surveys, interventions, escalated support, outreach, education or dispatch tasks about 11 times per day (over 4,000 times during the year). On any given 12-hour work day, our collective volunteer and staff activity was nearly 47 hours. Not only does our work have a critical and positive impact on species preservation and recovery but it also results in our ability to reach tens of thousands of people – more than 65,000 people during 2017 – with outreach and education so that people are better informed and more committed to doing their part in protected species stewardship. During the past year the dedicated activity of our volunteers contributed a workforce value of $345,000 – better than a 3 to 1 return on investment from the government funding we receive.

Geographic areas served: State of Hawaii

Programs: Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR) is the field operations arm of Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance Inc. and is Hawaii’s largest non-profit marine species conservation and response organization. We cover approximately 300 miles of coastline on the islands of Oahu and Molokai with our team of volunteers, interns and staff. We are a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, conservation and stewardship of Hawaii’s endangered, threatened or protected marine species. HMAR is supported by private donations, corporate support and government grants. Under partnerships with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the State of Hawaii, HMAR is the designated first responder organization for field activity associated with the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and protected sea turtles within our geographic range of operations. We provide important species preservation, conservation and recovery support in important ways. (1) Our Field Response Team spends thousands of hours annually patrolling for animals, or responding to specific sightings, so we may document the condition of specific animals, identify potential health issues, track locations of individual animals and record other data needed for species population and recovery research. Our actions save protected marine animals from deaths and injuries caused by disease, hookings, entanglement in marine debris and potentially dangerous or inappropriate interaction with humans. We are involved in animal intervention activity, stranding support and marine animal rescue to enable medical treatment, rehabilitation and release. We engage with the public to teach sustainable human, pet and fishery behaviors resulting in improved public stewardship for these animals to support long-term species recovery. (2) Our Outreach and Education Team works with Hawaii’s public and private schools to educate children about Hawaii’s protected marine species and to teach each child how they can help with marine animal conservation and stewardship. We also participate in community events, make educational presentations at public venues and assist in development of community policy to inform residents and visitors about Hawaii’s protected marine animals, the threats to species survival, and the actions we can all take to make an impact. (3) Our Dispatch & Reporting Team manages a telephone hotline which each year receives thousands of calls and mobile app-generated reports from the public or government agencies of protected marine animals seen on shorelines or in near shore waters. This department also records and shares data obtained by our Field Response Team such as animal condition assessments, animal location information and animal behavior data, with NOAA to facilitate in-depth species research and population conservation and recovery efforts.

Community Stories

17 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I moved to Oahu in 2015 as a military spouse. When I moved here I semi-retired from my banking job. My goal was to volunteer with animals or marine life and have an opportunity to give back. Joining HMAR as a volunteer has been the most rewarding and wonderful thing I have ever done! Doing my part as a field responder in order to help preserve the lives of the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal has fulfilled me like nothing else. I have learned so much about this wonderful species from the Director, our Sector Managers, and employees, as well as other volunteers who have been doing this far longer than I have. I am able to provide outreach to the local community, as well as tourists that come upon a seal resting area I may be working. It gives me so much joy to be able to answer questions and provide information about our beautiful Hawaiian Monk Seals, and also to be able to watch over them and provide valuable information to our organization on the identity, actions and behaviors I witness during the seals resting time on these beautiful beaches. My life has been forever changed because of Hawaii Marine Animal Response. My time on island is coming to an end soon and I will truly, truly miss working with these amazing Hawaiian Monk Seals and also with this amazing organization called Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMMA). Mahalo!

Volunteer

Rating: 4


I was fortunate to become a volunteer on the beaches of Oahu watching over and educating the public about Hawaii's monk seals over a year ago. This opportunity was given to me by Hawaii Marine Animal Response whose director is Jon Gelman (originally Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance). There have been many challenges including the amazing birth of a pup on a Waikiki beach after 50-60 years. From my work here and background in biology , I can vouch for HMAR being a positive influence in monk seal recovery. I hope you will support this effort for Hawaii's monk seals. There are various ways you can contribute, either as a volunteer on our beaches or with a donation to HMAR to help continue to build on the tools and resources available to aid in the Hawaiian monk seal recovery effort.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became a HMMA volunteer to have the rare opportunity to spend time with and learn from the monk seals. The training was informative and my time spent with the animals has given me a greater respect for how delicate our ocean environments truely are. I was even more impressed by how well organized and run this organization is. It's is a pleasure to help out when I can!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked as a volunteer on the beaches with Hawaii's monk seals since 2013, and have been impressed with the organization of Hawaii Marine Animal Response, and the director, Jon Gelman. HMAR, under Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance, began overseeing the volunteer response in 2016 and the coordination of volunteers and the resources brought to the table have been very helpful. Between managing the unique challenges of a mother and pup in Waikiki, to volunteer surveys around Oahu and Molokai, to new tools to help volunteers respond to and report on monk seal behavior, HMAR has been a positive influence in the monk seal recovery. I hope you'll consider supporting Hawaii's monk seals, whether as a volunteer on our beaches or with a donation to HMAR to help continue to build on the tools and resources available to aid in the Hawaiian monk seal recovery effort.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our primary reason for existing is to educate the public about the Hawaiian Monk Seal. Our outreach goes beyond the beaches where they haul out; we educate in many other locations, such as Sea Life Park, the aquarium, various sports venues, etc. As an endangered species, it is paramount to teach all who come in contact with them the importance of giving them the
respect they deserve. They have been here a lot longer than we have.
What I have learned about not only the monk seal but also marine life in general has been most rewarding and fulfilling. And the dedicated fellow volunteers have such a passion for what they do.
All in all I have thoroughly loved working as a volunteer. I hope more will make the time and become one too.

Kathleen O.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so privileged to be a volunteer for HMAR and be a small part of the conservation effort. I've met so many dedicated volunteers who inspire me and teach me about Hawaiian monk seals and other marine life. I am so blessed to be able to watch over the seals and work with the public, both locals and tourists, who seem so interested in also learning about individual seals and the population in general. Occasionally, a local will tell me they have lived in Hawaii all their lives and have never seen a Hawaiian monk seal. Educating that person about the monk seals and the individual seal just encountered is as exciting for me as it is for the local experiencing their first encounter with one. People leave after their encounter excited and wanting to tell their friends and families what they just experienced and learned and some even want to be volunteers to carry on these conservation efforts.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a Kama'aina of the Islands of Hawai'i. I grew up loving the ocean sports of surfing, paddling, but we never really learned about the sea life and our fragile ecosystem here in the middle of this incredible Pacific Ocean.

Since the monk seals started 'hauling out' on the Waikiki
shores in the summer of 2017 & when Kaimana pup was born at Kaimana Beach, I saw a very important need to become educated and to learn more about these sea creatures as many hundreds of tourists and local people would daily gather and share in the exciting experience of a new pup never before born at Kaimana Beach.

I had a lot of questions-legal in matter - and in the species itself. I asked a volunteer of HMMA/HMAR how to become a volunteer who told me of the website to go onto and I signed up immediately.

There was such a great response of people wanting to learn more about the Hawaiian Monk Seals that HMMA was holding extra classes to educate and inform people who might be interested. Everything i learned in the 4 hr intro session was ALL totally new & fascinating to me.

I continued learning by going on the NOAA website & hanging out and listening to the volunteers and staff talk to people. I became a volunteer, told my friends and family everything I learned as they were eager to be informed about the new additions of pups to our islands.

I shared with my friends in the fire dept and lifeguards who never knew all this information and they shared with others. I shared with my family, children and grandchildren and they were very excited by the information I had learned from HMMR/HMAR-NOAA which provided all new knowledge to them & they shared with many more. The tourists were always very appreciative for all the information about the Hawaiian Monk Seals.

Everyone has been so eager to learn about the HAWAIIAN MONK SEALS which shows me that the KNOWLEDGE that was shared with me from NOAA HMMA/HMAR HAS reached hundreds & hundreds more just from one individual. and HMMA lighting the path with the passion care great respect, awareness, understanding & instilling the greater harmony & manao (wisdom) between humans sea & land creatures while embracing a higher consciousness for our fragile Earth its vitale clean living waters & vitale clean fresh air all necessary to live on this Earth together as one living harmonious & safe unit.

NOAA-HMMR/HMAR should definitely receive the highest award and recommendation as a NONPROFIT & have increased funding for the generous work of time effort passion and patience by it's dedicated volunteers & incredible devoted loving fun staff.

Mahalo Nui Loa, Lynnette L Mau

Tyler_Asbury

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Monk seals and sea turtles need our help. I am proud to be a dispatch volunteer for HMAR for these wonderful animals and to the people of Hawai'i by helping to protect these endangered species, so that future generations may be able to see them and appreciate them as well.

Alena Christine L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer for HMAR and I absolutely love it, it's a wonderful organization! We get to meet lots of people and educate about Hawaiian Monk Seals. And better yet, spend lots of time with these endangered critters.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

About two years ago I was walking along Diamondhead Beach and came across a Hawaiian monk seal. I got out my smart phone and found a number for the hotline to report a Hawaiian monk seal citing. I called the hotline (888) 256-9840 and they asked me lots of questions which I answered to the best of my ability. I then asked how I could volunteer and was told to logon to the website
www.h-mar.org and click on volunteer.

I signed up for their orientation program and became a volunteer. I met with Jon Gelman who heads up this program and went through the orientation process and that was that...I was a new volunteer!

I spent quite a few shifts last summer volunteering to look after a newborn Hawaiian monk seal pup named Kaiwi (Born on the Kaiwi coast). That experience was very exciting and rewarding and I was hooked. I enjoyed many shifts volunteering for HMAR and I only did so when it was convenient for my schedule.

The following summer another Hawaiian monk seal pup was born at Kiamana beach and I enjoyed volunteering my time during this very critical birthing and weaning stage. I was glad to have had a year of experience volunteering as this was a challenging experience due to the fact that Kiamana is such a heavily populated beach.

I have enjoyed every moment of volunteering for HMAR, Hawaii marine animal response. This experience has been very rewarding on many levels.

If you have some extra time and are interested in volunteering for a very worthy cause then I would highly recommend that you take a leap of faith and get involved.

Aloha,
Brad

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined HMAR on my birthday this year and was trained and ready for field duty just in time to do 'pupwatch' with Rocky and Kaimana. Such a blessing to be involved in preserving and conserving these wonderful animals for mother nature.

1 Kristina J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

HMAR is an awesome team of caring people who are concerned about the future of our environment. As part of the team, not only do I feel like I am helping an endangered animal species, but reaching out to the public to help them see the importance of preserving our natural resources. The tourists from all over the world as well as local people are thrilled when they see and learn about the Hawaiian Monk seal that has lived here millions of years before man, and is struggling to survive and co-exist with man. The volunteers spend many hours with the seals and have many joyful as well as tearful experiences to share. I'm very proud to be a part of HMAR.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I was new to the island, I started volunteering with HMAR. It changed my life. I've been able to learn so much about the animals and watch them positively thrive in the public eye because of HMAR. Sensational staff/volunteers and extraordinary mission.

3 Kelly H.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been working with HMAR since August and I absolutely love it! I'm learning so much about the Hawaiian Monk Seals, learning my way around the island and meeting so many awesome people! So glad I have this opportunity!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I actually stumbled upon HMAR by accident. I’m new to Oahu, work at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and on my weekends off, I’d go explore a different part of the island. On one of these such weekends I ended up at Kaena Point and happened upon RIP. A male Hawaiian monk seal. I knew nothing about monk seals but called the number on the plaque and spoke with Ella. I was able to get her all the pertinent info so that she could Id him as RIP and I was hooked from then on. I stayed there most of the day watching him and later he interacted with another unknown seal. Ella asked if I’d like to volunteer and I jumped at the chance. I went to orientation and immediately headed to Kaimana Beach to see Rocky and her 3 week old pup Kaimana. I spent every weekend the next 3-4 weeks there watching over them, helping the other volunteers with the SRA’s and talking to numerous people, both local and visitors who wanted a glimpse of mom and pup.
I then started my own shifts at Turtle Bay resort and Sandy’s beach and other places watching and learning about other seals.
I learned how fragile their lives are as well as how much just watching them enriched my life. These are great people and a great organization who’s soul purpose is the well being of endangered animals such as the monk seals and sea turtles. I am proud to be a part of such a great organization and hope that we can be a positive influence to add more great people to our family

1 Beverly B.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a marine sciences grad student from the mainland, when I first volunteered, I'd not yet seen a critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal; some native Hawaiians have never seen one! I've enjoyed every chance to volunteer by watching over a seal, and sometimes her pup resting on a beach or swimming nearby and, if I can, answering others' questions . The HMAR is a network of many extremely knowledgeable and helpful volunteers and managers to teach, coach, and encourage others for the benefit of these fellow creatures who need our protection.

3 Cindy G J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have found a place through HMAR to help save our Hawaiian Monk Seals and have the opportunity to talk and educate both locals and people from around the world. I have discovered beaches on Oahu i never knew existed and rediscovered others from childhood memories.
The people involved are caring and knowledgeable and all care about keeping the monk seals and other marine animals safe while allowing visitors the opportunity to see nature on our beaches. I love the outreach both in the classrooms and in the community, however it is the time on the beaches with the seals that enrich my life. Being involved in HMAR allows me to make a difference in the world while having fun out in the field.