Groups Conducting Humpback Whale Research Under Permit
The following groups were granted humpback whale research permits by the State of Hawaii for the 2011-2012 whale season:
CETOS Research Collective
Principal Investigator: Ann Zoidis, M.S.
Co-Investigator: Andy Day, Tom Norris
The researchers of CETOS Research Collective plan to continue to conduct an underwater behavior and acoustic study of humpback whales. They will collect social sounds made between animals (particularly between mothers and calves and between adults) while recording behaviors at the same time. In addition, they will continue to assess behaviors that occur during social sound production and other activities and will investigate if there are certain group compositions, behaviors or configurations that result in social sound production. They also are assessing underwater activities of various different group compositions. Cetos recently received permission to tag humpbacks including calves and will pursue this new study.
University of Hawaii at Hilo
Principal Investigator: Adam Pack, Ph.D
Co-Investigator: Lou Herman, Andrea Bendlin, Aliza Milette, Jamie Gibbon, Joel Barkin
The Dolphin Institute will continue long-term population studies of humpbacks in the Eastern, Western and Central North Pacific Ocean. These studies include: 1) in air photo identification of individuals to determine individual life histories, social role, migration, habitat use, distribution, and reproductive status; 2) underwater videogrammetry to determine the sizes of animals in different social roles and the relationship of size to social role and derive sexual maturity estimations; 3) underwater videography to document behaviors and aid in sex determination; 4) passive accoustic recordings to determine song source levels and propagation characteristics; 5) crittercam studies of animals to help in understanding mating system; 6) skin biopsy sampling for sex determination and individual identification to supplement the crittercam information.
Pacific Whale Foundation
Principal Investigator: Greg Kaufman & Emmanuelle Martinez
are a matter of concern in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
Despite vessel strikes occurrences being closely monitored, few studies have addressed the
question of how probable these strikes are under certain conditions and whether factors such as age
class, sex and group composition might make certain individuals more susceptible to vessel strikes.
Pacific Whale Foundation completed a preliminary modeling study addressing the issue of vessel strike using surprise
encounters and near misses as proxies using platforms of opportunity (PoP) (here whale-watching
vessels). Given that PoP tend to target areas with higher whale densities, models might introduce
bias that is not associated with non-random transect survey lines. Standardized survey lines, using a
randomized survey design, conducted from a research vessel will allow correcting previous models
and, therefore, provide a more realistic probability of strike.
West Coast Whale Research Foundation - Whale Trust
Principal Investigator: Jim Darling
Co-Investigator: Karen Miller, Meagan Jones, Charles Nicklin, Elizabeth Mathews
The researchers of the West Coast Whale Research Foundation will continue long-term research on the function of the humpback whale song. This includes playback experiments by playing specific sounds to subject whales and monitoring the reaction. Previous research has also included female reproductive strategies and photo-identification.
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale NMS
Principal Investigator: Edward Lyman, Justin Viezbicke
The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s research for this season will include full-body image collection for scar and health monitoring. The sanctuary will also continue to respond to entangled whales and examine mechanisms and sources of entanglement.
Hawaii Marine Mammal Consortium
Principal Investigator: Christine Gabriele
Co-Investigator: Susan Yin, Suzanne Rickards, Adam Frankel
The research of the Hawai'i Marine Mammal Consortium includes all cetaceans
in Hawaiian waters. The primary research topics are: 1) humpback whale
biology and behavioral ecology, 2) vocalizations and behavior of cetaceans,
and 3)stock structure, demography, movement patterns and relative
distribution of cetaceans in Hawaiian waters. The core methods for this
work are visual observation, photo-identification, photogrammetry, biopsy
and passive acoustics. The core study area is the leeward coast of the
island of Hawai'i.
California State University, CI - Keiki Kohola Project
Principal Investigator: Rachel Cartwright, Ph.D.
Co-Investigator: Terence Mangold, Amy Venema, Blake Gillespie
The researchers of California State University, Channel Islands and The Keiki Kohola Project will continue their study of the behavior and dynamics of humpback whale female and calf pairs in the waters off of Maui. Currently, they are conducting transect surveys and focal follows of female-calf pairs, in order to determine how behavior and habitat use in female-calf pairs may be influenced by abiotic factors such as bathymetry, water quality, and levels of vessel traffic. They are also looking at behavior of yearlings and juvenile whales and aim to document changes in behavior before and after weaning.
University of Hawaii Hilo
Principal Investigator: Jason Turner, Ph.D.
The researchers from University of Hawaii in Hilo plan to conduct weekly survey cruises from January-April in waters surrounding Hilo Bay, Hawai'i. Survey information including group size estimation, number of calves, position, and direction of movement will be recorded for each group encountered. Photographs will be taken of both the ventral portion of the fluke and dorsal fin for all individuals. Digital photos will be analyzed and used to compare to 1) identified humpback whales from other locations in the Hawaiian Islands and 2) identified humpback whales from Bering Sea populations. Recordings will be analyzed with Jan Straley from UA-Sitka during her two-week stay in Hilo to work with UH Hilo marine mammal course.
Cascadia Research Collective
Principal Investigator: Robin W. Baird, Ph.D.
Co- Investigator: Daniel Webster, Gregg Schorr
Cascadia's research is not directly on humpback whales, but the organization has permission to approach whales if necessary during surveys of other dolphins and whales near the Hawaiian Islands. The research focuses on population structure and abundance of whales and dolphins, including examination of the diving behavior of beaked whales, which are known to strand during Navy sonar exercises throughout the world. Cascadia uses photo-identification, genetic sampling, satellite and radio-tagging and other methods to explore populations and movements of toothed whales and dolphins. Recently, much effort has been focused on false killer whales, which are being considered for listing as endangered near the Hawaiian Islands.
Center for Whale Studies
Principal Investigator: Mark Ferrari
Utilizing benign, non-lethal techniques, the Center for Whale Studies will continue its long-term study of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, that began in 1975, in the waters of Maui County to determine the vital parameters of this endangered population. Sex, relative age-class, and reproductive condition of individual whales will be determined and identified through surface and underwater photographs of their fluke pigmentation patterns and various morphological features, define life histories, document behavior, and record distribution. Resighting histories will be compiled for individuals seen over successive years. Reproductive histories and reproductive spans will be determined for known mothers. Calving intervals will be defined. The social roles and behavior of whales will be recorded through still imaging and digital video. Social sounds and songs of humpback whales will be acoustically recorded. Free-floating samples of sloughed whale skin will be collected for genetic analysis.