Ride-Along with HMAR

Whether you are a visitor to Oahu or you live here, HMAR’s Ride-Along Program can give you the unique opportunity to support Hawaii’s protected marine species and learn more about the work that we do.

The in-field response, rescue, education and stranding support work HMAR conducts is labor intensive and very costly. Our government funding only covers a portion of our expenses so we rely on the public to help us continue our important work. HMARʻs Ride-Along Program is designed for anyone who wants to experience the real-life world of marine animal conservation and response. The program is available on either Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or Mondays each week and takes approximately 4 hours. Up to 3 people can ride along with a HMAR field staff member during our regular work shifts. Participants will learn about Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, seabirds, the threats they face, and how HMAR works to save them.

HMAR’s Ride-Along Program is a great fit for you if you …

  • want to experience what it’s like to work in marine conservation response.
  • are visiting Oahu or live here and want to support saving Hawaii’s protected marine animals.
  • want to become educated on Hawaii’s marine conservation issues while in the field.
  • are flexible, passionate, and willing to experience the real work that goes into marine protected species animal response.

What will I see and do during a HMAR Ride-Along?

Participants get to see and experience the real world of marine species conservation and field response. Actual field activity varies by the day and our needs in the field. Activity could include:

  • Responding to a location where a rare and endangered Hawaiian monk seal has “hauled-out” on a beach so we can conduct important observations of the animal’s condition, document the animal’s behavior and identify the specific animal.
  • Responding to a location where Hawaii’s green sea turtles bask on shore so we can assess the animals’ condition and document their behavior.
  • Observing or assisting in a sea turtle or seabird rescue.
  • Documenting animal behaviors at an important Laysan albatross seabird colony on Oahu’s north shore.
  • Conducting search activity to find a specific animal of concern that has been reported to our hotline.
  • Receiving personalized one-on-one education from a HMAR staff member on Hawaii’s protected marine species, our ocean ecosystem and how we can all help in the preservation and conservation of these important resources.

What does it cost to participate in a HMAR Ride-Along?

Donations from the public are needed to help support HMARʻs important non-profit work activity. Participating in the HMAR Ride-Along Program is free when you adopt a Hawaiian monk seal. A Hawaiian monk seal adoption which includes a Ride-Along for one person is a $200 donation. Each additional Ride-Along participant – up to a total of 3 people – is a donation of $150 each. All Ride-Along Program donations go exclusively to help fund HMAR’s non-profit programs and you will be provided with a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the HMAR Ride-Along Program:

Q. Are there any COVID-19 restrictions in place with the HMAR Ride-Along Program?

A. Yes, all participants in the HMAR Ride-Along Program must provide proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination protocol before participation. All HMAR staff have completed a COVID-19 vaccination protocol. Face masks are required when in the HMAR response vehicle.

Q: Where and when does the HMAR Ride-Along Program occur?

A. Our Ride-Along Program takes place on the island of Oahu in the State of Hawaii. The Ride-Along begins and ends at the HMAR facility in Kailua on the island of Oahu. Ride-Alongs are available on either Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays each week. Participants meet at the HMAR facility at 8:00 am and the Ride-Along usually is finished around noon.

Q. Do I need my own vehicle to participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program?

A. No, however you will need to use personal or public transportation to get to the HMAR facility in Kailua on the island of Oahu where the Ride-Along begins and ends.

Q. What age do I need to be to participate?

A. The program is open to anyone 11 years of age or older. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Q. How many people can participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program on any given day?

A. We can accommodate up to three people each Ride-Along day.

Q. How long does it take to participate in the Ride-Along Program?

A. Participants Ride-Along with a HMAR staff member in their HMAR response vehicle during about 4 hours of normal HMAR field activity. The minimum participation is one day (about 4 hours) but multiple days of Ride-Along experiences can also be scheduled.

Q. What will I see and do during an HMAR Ride-Along?

A. Participants get to see and experience the real world of marine species conservation and field response. Actual field activity varies by the day and our needs in the field. Activity could include:

  • Responding to a location where a rare and endangered Hawaiian monk seal has “hauled-out” on a beach so we can conduct important observations of the animal’s condition, document the animal’s behavior and identify the specific animal.
  • Responding to a location where Hawaii’s green sea turtles bask on shore so we can assess the animals’ condition and document their behavior.
  • Observing or assisting in a sea turtle or seabird rescue.
  • Documenting animal behaviors at an important Laysan albatross seabird colony on Oahu’s north shore.
  • Conducting search activity to find a specific animal of concern that has been reported to our hotline.
  • Receiving personalized one-on-one education from a HMAR staff member on Hawaii’s protected marine species, our ocean ecosystem and how we can all help in the preservation and conservation of these important resources.

Q. Are there any physical requirements I must meet to participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program?

A. Yes, you should be physically fit and free of any physical or mental incapacity that would limit your ability to participate in the Ride-Along program. You must be able to walk safely on rocky and sandy coastlines, carry all of your belongings, and stand in the sun for up to three hours. We also suggest that you should not be sensitive to strong smells or have a weak stomach since we do sometimes work with deceased animals.

Q. Does HMAR provide food or refreshments during the Ride-Along?

A. HMAR provides some beverages and small snacks. Program participants are encouraged to also bring food or refreshments along if they wish. We strongly encourage guests to bring additional water as we often expect to be in hot humid conditions without shade.

Q. Do I need to bring anything with me for the Ride-Along?

A. Yes, we’ve included a list of things we suggest you bring to have the best experience.

  • Water (up to two bottles per person)
  • Hat/sunglasses
  • Reef safe sunscreen
  • Camera and/or binoculars
  • Windbreaker, jacket, or umbrella in case of rain
  • A notebook and writing utensil if you wish to take notes
  • Closed-toed shoes are REQUIRED

Q. Do I need to sign anything to participate in the Ride-Along Program?

A. Yes, participants must sign HMAR’s standard volunteer liability waiver and indemnification agreement which also includes our social media policy. When you sign up to participate in the program, this standard form will be sent to you. We must have it signed and returned to us before your Ride-Along can take place. Mahalo for your understanding.

Q. What does it cost to participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program?

A. Donations from the public are needed to help support HMARʻs important non-profit work activity. Participating in the HMAR Ride-Along Program is free when you adopt a Hawaiian monk seal. A Hawaiian monk seal adoption which includes Ride-Along participation for one person, is a $200 donation. Each additional Ride-Along participant – up to a total of 3 people – is a donation of $150 each. All Ride-Along Program donations go exclusively to help fund HMAR’s non-profit programs and you will be provided with a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.

Q. I have more questions about the HMAR Ride-Along Program. How do I get more information?

A. Please email us HERE.

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