Pacific Whale Foundation founder and Executive Director Greg Kaufman died on Feb. 10 after a hard fought battle with brain cancer.
“We are greatly saddened by the loss of our colleague and friend, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family,” said Kristie Wrigglesworth, PWF’s Chief Operating Officer, in a Feb. 11 PWF news release. “We mourn his passing, yet we also celebrate his life, his work, and his vision which continues to guide and inspire all of us at Pacific Whale Foundation, including our members and supporters around the world.”
Kaufman’s legacy of advocacy and activism on behalf of whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife continues through the work of the organization he founded 38 years ago. Kaufman helped form PWF in response to humpback whales being brought to near extinction by commercial whaling. Nearly four decades later, humpback whale populations are thriving.
“Greg fervently believed that we could help save whales by educating the public, from a scientific perspective, about theses amazing animals and their ocean home,” said PWF Board Chair, Paul Forestell, who co-authored Hawaii’s Humpback Whales: The Ultimate Guide with Kaufman. “That’s how we came to offer whalewatches and other ocean ecotours in the first place–as a way to share our research, knowledge and passion with others.”
Kaufman was a whalewatching pioneer on Maui, and had previously served on the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Committee. He was also a leader in whale research, ocean conservation, and marine ecotourism at the international level. In recent years, through his involvement with the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its Sub-Committees on Whale-watching, Southern Hemisphere Whales, and Bycatch, Kaufman was widely recognized for his important guidance.
Kaufman was a contributing member to the Southern Oceans Research Partnership, co-led the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Regional Workshop on Marine Mammal Watching in the Wider Caribbean Region, and was the US delegate in an international workshop held in Patagonia to develop a Five Year Global Plan for Whalewatching. He also regularly advised governments, agencies, and other coastal management authorities on developing sustainable and responsible whale and dolphin watching programs, including in Oman, Ecuador, Chile and Australia.
“Greg understood that conservation is more than a message, it’s also an investment,” said Blake Moore, Vessel Staff Director, in the Feb. 11 news release. “From using reef safe sunscreen and recycled paper, to eliminating straws on our boats and plastic bags in our stores, Greg was constantly raising the bar for our environmentally responsible policies and practices.”
Photo courtesy Pacific Whale Foundation