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Groups Conducting Humpback Whale Research Under Permit

The following groups were granted humpback whale research permits by the State of Hawaii for the 2013-2014 whale season:

Pacific Whale Foundation
Principal Investigator: Greg Kaufman & Emmanuelle Martinez

Whale strikes 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: Meagan Jones and Charles Nicklin
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
The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary's research for this season will include full-body image collection for scar and health monitoring and examination of effects of anthropogenic sounds on mother-calf communication. The sanctuary will also continue to respond to entangled whales and examine mechanisms and sources of entanglement.

Center for Whale Studies blank
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.

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology blank
Principal Investigator: Whitlow Au
Mother-calf pairs are the grouping of humpback whales believed to be most vulnerable to the effects of boat noise. Increasing numbers of whale watching boats and other vessels may significantly disrupt not only the communications between mother-calf pairs, but also other groups. This research will examine the acoustic communications between humpback whale mother-calf pairs using a variety of methods in order to determine the effects of boat noise on communications. Suction cup acoustic tags, a hydrophone array, and a binaural acoustic recorder with video recorder will be used to collect acoustic data linked with identified individuals. Results will allow a better understanding of the sounds produced by mother-calf pairs, how they may be affected by boat noise, and provide information to management agencies.

Cascadia Research Collective blank
Principal Investigator: Robin Baird
This research is the continuation of a long-term study of movements and habitat use of odontocetes in Hawaiian waters, involving photo identification of individuals to estimate abundance and examine social organization, biopsy sampling to assess toxin loads and examine genetic relatedness of individuals for understanding social organization and population structure, and satellite tagging to assess movements, habitat use, and underwater behavior.

The Keiki Koholā Project blank
Principal Investigator: Rachel Cartwright
This research explores the changes in the central location of female-calf pairs over the course of the season. This project will closely examine fine scale temporal and spatial trends in the use of nursery habitat, and compile data on time budgets, behavior, and associated spatial distribution of female-calf pairs in early, mid- and late season. This work will specifically compare data on maternal and calf energy budgets in areas of high traffic and recreation use versus more remote regions, such as the southern shoreline of Lanaʻi.

Hawaii Marine Mammal Consortium blank
Principal Investigator: Christine Gabriele
The purpose of this research is to gain insight into the behavior and life history characteristics of humpback and sperm whales. The knowledge of stock structure and behavior is critical baseline information on these species' use of coastal habitats, and essential for evaluating proposed human activities that affect these coastal waters. This research uses photographic identification to compile sighting histories of known individuals and tissue sampling for analysis of genetics and diet and hormone levels.

University of Hawaii at Hilo blank
Principal Investigator: Jason Turner
The purpose of the study is to collect data on cetaceans as part of an on-going long-term study of cetaceans in East Hawaiʻi. Research will be conducted for the purpose of recording scientific information using 1) vessel-based observation, photography, videography 2) underwater observation, photography, videography, and 3) underwater song recording and/or playback.

University of Hawaii at Hilo blank
Principal Investigator: Adam Pack
The purpose of this research is to continue the long-term population studies of humpback whales and other cetacean species in the Eastern, Western and Central North Pacific Ocean with an emphasis on waters off Hawaiʻi and Alaska that were initiated by the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory of UH Mānoa in 1975 and continued every year since. These studies include: (a) boat-based surveys of humpback whales and other cetacean species to document presence and distribution of different types of groupings; (b) behavioral observation and recording as well as in-air photography of individuals to document individual identification, behavioral roles, and behavioral interactions with the overall goal of determining individual life histories, migratory patterns, habitat use, distribution, and reproductive status; (c) underwater videogrammetry to determine the body size of individuals in different behavioral roles; (d) underwater videography to document behaviors and social interactions and to aid in sex determination; (e) passive acoustic recordings of humpback whale song to trace the evolution of song in Hawaiʻi and to examine acoustics characteristics of song in relation to a singer's size and life history; (f) passive acoustic recordings of non-song vocalizations to determine acoustic properties, contexts, and functions; (g) Crittercam studies of humpbacks in different group types to help in the understanding of the whales' mating system; and (h) obtaining skin biopsy samples for sex determination and health assessment.

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