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Other Sanctuary-Sponsored Research Projects

The following is an annotated list of additional research projects and related activities that the sanctuary has supported. For more information on these projects and related activities, contact the sanctuary and/or the listed researchers.


Finn, R. (2016). Estimating non-lethal entanglement rates through scar analysis of central North Pacific humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae): Assessment of additional body regions. Master’s thesis. Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland.


Lyman, E. et al. (2015) Entanglement reports and scar analysis of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, in Hawaiian waters (2003 – 2015): foundation towards future full-body analysis of entanglement threat. Abstract. NOAA - Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary


Costa, B.M., M.S. Kendall, J. Rooney, M. Chow, J. Lecky, F.A. Parrish, A. Montgomery, R.C. Boland, and H. Spalding. 2012. Prediction of Mesophotic Coral Distributions in the Au'au Channel, Hawaii. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 149. Prepared by the NCCOS Center for Coastal Monitoring and AssessmentBiogeography Branch. Silver Spring, MD. 44 pp.

Download pdf version, 14.1MB


Splash, which is an international cooperative research effort which took place across the entire North Pacific from 2004 to 2007.


Trends in Relative Distribution, Abundance and Population Composition of Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaeangliae in Kawaihae Bay, Island of Hawai`i 1988-2003. Researchers: C. M. Gabriele, S. H. Rickards, S. E. Yin and A. S. Frankel. Affiliation: Hawai`i Marine Mammal Consortium

Download pdf version, 796K


Feasibility of using Acoustic DIFAR Technology to Localize and Estimate Hawaiian Humpback Whale Population. Researchers: W. Au, and K. Andrews. Affiliation: Marine Mammal Research Program, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai‘i

Download pdf version, 4.7MB

The objective of this project was to determine if the DIFAR (directional frequency analyses and recording) sonobuoy technology could be applied to estimate the population size of humpback whales singing in chorus.

Abundance of Humpback Whales in Hawaiian Waters: Results of 1993-2000 Aerial Surveys. Researchers: J. Mobley, S. Spitz, and R. Grotenfendt. Affiliation: Marine Mammal Research Consultants

Download pdf version, 344K

This report summarizes the results of aerial surveys of humpback whales throughout the major Hawaiian Islands during the 1993, 1995, 1998 and 2000 winter seasons during their period of peak abundance (late Feb - early April).

Estimating Residence Times of Humpback Whales in Hawai‘i. Researchers: A. Craig, L. Herman, and A. Pack. Affiliation: The Dolphin Institute

Download pdf version, 220K

This report reviews existing literature on residence times of individually-identified humpback whales in the Hawaiian Islands and expands on existing knowledge of residency using collected data from twenty-one winter field seasons in Hawai‘i. This report represents the most comprehensive analysis to date of humpback whale residency in the Hawaiian Islands.

Characterization of Behavior of Humpback Whales in Hawaiian Waters. Researchers: J. Darling. Affiliation: West Coast Whale Research Foundation and Whale Trust

Download pdf version, 13.3MB

This report reviews available information and summarizes our current understanding of the behavior of humpback whales in Hawai‘i.



Shore-based monitoring along the Kohala Coast, Hawai‘i. Researchers: J. Ostman-Lind, A. Driscoll-Lind, et al. Affiliation: Hawai`i Marine Mammal Consortium

The goals of this study are to describe the short- and long-term patterns of distribution, general habitat use, and behavior of humpbacks off the Kohala coast with the use of shore-based observations and theodolite tracking.

Population estimate using acoustic methods. Researchers: W. Au, W. Burgess and J. Mobley. Affiliation: UH Marine Mammal Research Program

Remote monitoring devices (hydrophone, preamplifier and filter) will be deployed along the West Maui coast at about 40 feet deep. The sensors will collect acoustic data for a period of 5 minutes every hour. The acoustic signals will be used to estimate the whale population and better understand humpback whale behavior, especially at night.

Social function of whale songs. Researchers: J. Darling, M. Jones and F. Nicklin. Affiliation: West Coast Whale Research Foundation.

The purpose of this research is to continue ongoing investigations of the social function of humpback whale songs. The hypothesis being tested is that the songs are displays that males use to signal dominant social status. Song display characteristics will be correlated to length/age estimations and/or the specific social circumstances of the singing whale.

Sub-surface and night-time behavior off Maui. Researcher: R. Baird

Data were collected using remotely deployed, time-depth recorder radio tags that were attached with suction cups. Questions addressed include: (1) What proportion of time do whales spend visible at the surface? (2) Do diurnal behavior patterns exist? (3) What types of subsurface reactions do whales have to vessel approaches? (4) Where do whales spend their time in the water column? and (5) Can behaviors observed at the surface be used to describe underwater activities?


Behavior and development of calves in nursery waters. Researcher: R. Cartwright

This study has the following objectives: (1) Document behavior, breathing regime and pod characteristics of calves seen at the start and end of the season in Maui waters, (2) incorporate digital videography into the methods already developed, (3) monitor water quality of areas frequented by mothers and calves, and (4) conduct a feasibility study for future monitoring of mother and calf population on Penguin Banks.

Investigating demographics, behavior and growth using a new technique to measure individual whale size. Researchers: L. Herman and A. Pack. Affiliation: Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory.

Using a new videogrammetric technique the study will estimate: (1) the proportion of dyads containing whales of immature size, (2) the size of males escorting females, (3) the size of singers, and (4) the growth rate, conception date and birth date of calves.


Valuing Hawai`i's humpback whales: the economic impact of humpbacks on Hawai`i's ocean tour industry. Researcher: Dan Utech. Affiliation: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

This study quantifies the economic impact of commercial whale watching and other humpback-related ocean touring in Hawai`i. It also quantifies the broader economic impact of the ocean tour industry.

Download pdf version, 784K


Population survey with other cetacean species: Results of 1993-1998 aerial surveys. Researchers: J. Mobley et al. Affiliation: University of Hawai`i - West Oahu.

This study uses aerial survey data collected over several years to estimate the current population of humpbacks and other cetaceans frequenting Hawaiian waters.



Mother and calf survey in Ma`alaea Bay, Maui. Researchers: M. Ferrari and D. Glockner-Ferrari. Affiliation: Center for Whale Studies.

Photo-identification on Penguin Banks and behavioral comparison with North Atlantic Humpbacks. Researcher: D. Matilla. Affiliation: Center for Coastal Studies.

Long-term association patterns off Maui and on Penguin Banks. Researcher: D. Saldan. Affiliation: Hawai`i Whale Research Foundation.

Whale survey using respiration technique and shore-based survey methods. Researcher: J. Mobley. Affiliation: University of Hawai`i, West Oahu.


Population survey off Kahoolawe. Affiliation: Pacific Whale Foundation

Underwater videography and observations of age and sex classes of whales off Lahaina and Au`au Channel. Researchers: J. Mobley, D. Jensen and J. Lemire. Affiliation: University of Hawai`i, West Oahu


Population characteristics off Kauai: 1991-1993 data. Researcher: S. Cerchi.


Conferences and Workshops Devoted to Humpback Whale Research

13th biennial conference on the biology of marine mammals, Wailea, Maui, 2000; sponsored by the sanctuary in collaboration with the International Society of Marine Mammalogy.

Annual humpback whale researcher meetings on Maui; sponsored by the sanctuary in collaboration with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Workshop to assess research and other needs and opportunities related to Humpback Whale management in the Hawaiian Islands, 1995, sponsored by the sanctuary in collaboration with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Other Research-Related Activities

Annotated Research Bibliography on Humpback Whales in Hawaiian Waters, sponsored by the sanctuary and prepared by Anne Reisewitz, University of Hawai‘i, Marine Option Program.

Download pdf version, 188K

Coastal water quality monitoring and coral reef studies on Maui, sponsored by the sanctuary in collaboration with University of Hawai‘i.

Native Hawaiian fishing rights and traditional practices study, sponsored by the sanctuary in collaboration with the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.


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