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Research and Monitoring - Overview

The sanctuary has taken a lead in conducting collaborative research projects that assess populations of humpbacks and the condition of their habitat, and differentiate between natural and anthropogenic impacts. Monitoring of humpback whales and their habitat includes documenting whale distribution and abundance, as well as monitoring potential human impacts.

During the past five years, much of the sanctuary’s research focus has been on SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance, and Status of Humpbacks), an international cooperative research study of the population structure of humpback whales across the North Pacific and the world’s largest and most comprehensive research project ever conducted on any whale species.

The sanctuary research program also provides research training and internships and is involved in both local and international collaborative meetings, workshops, and marine mammal survey partnerships on the mainland U.S. and in American Samoa.

The primary strategies of the sanctuary’s research program include the following:

1) improving understanding of the central North Pacific population of humpback whales and their wintering habitat;

2) addressing and resolving specific management concerns;

3) coordinating and facilitating information exchange among various researchers and institutions, agencies, and the public.

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