SPLASH in Hawai‘i

SPLASH had better results than anticipated in many regions. The sanctuary partnered with the state of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources to coordinate seven teams in Hawai‘i. We also conducted our own fieldwork on Penguin Bank and assisted with Hawai‘i Island, Maui, and Kaua`i.

SPLASH completed its final field season in 2006. Between 2004 and 2006, researchers in Hawai‘i encountered 3,624 groups of whales, which resulted in the identification of 8,037 individuals. Researchers collected 15,252 images for use in photo identification and human impact analysis, 5,689 fluke IDs, and 2032 biopsies over the project’s duration.

The following groups were contracted by the sanctuary to conduct SPLASH research in Hawai‘i (listed by island):


Hawai‘i Marine Mammal Consortium: Christine Gabriele

Hawai‘i Marine Mammal Consortium was formed in 1999 by a group of scientists who share an interest in marine mammal research, education, and conservation in the Hawaiian Islands and have a strong commitment to help island communities value, understand, and protect Hawai‘i’s marine environment.


Marine Mammal Research Consultants, Ltd.: Joe Mobley

Marine Mammal Research Consultants (MMRC) was created by Joe Mobley in 1993 in order to perform aerial surveys of marine mammals living in Hawaiian waters. The majority of MMRC’s survey and consulting efforts have been aimed at assessing the reactions of humpback whales and other cetaceans to underwater noise (e.g., ATOC program; U.S. Navy underwater training ranges). Over the past 10 years, MMRC has accumulated population data on a total of 17 indigenous cetacean species.

Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research, Inc.: Mark Deakos

HAMER was founded in 2004, and offers scientific expertise to conduct field research on and educate about Hawaii's marine wildlife. This research and understanding is the primary means for the proper management and protection of these species.


Center for Whale Studies: Mark and Debbie Ferrari

The Center for Whale Studies was founded by researchers Mark and Debbie Ferrari and is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and conservation of marine mammals and preservation of the marine environment. Developing innovative, non-invasive techniques to study living whales in their natural habitat, the Ferraris have conducted a long-term study of humpback whales in Hawai‘i since 1975. The Center for Whale Studies has shed light on essential facts on the life history, behavior, and reproductive cycle of humpback whales.

Hawai‘i Whale Research Foundation: Dan Salden

The Hawai‘i Whale Research Foundation has been researching humpback whales in Hawai`i since 1988. HWRF's mission includes researching marine mammals, particularly long-term social affiliations and competitive group behaviors, and serving as an educational outlet to the public and community. .

The Dolphin Institute: Adam Pack (with Lou Herman)

The Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory (KBMML) pioneered the scientific study of humpback whales in Hawaiian waters in 1975, and has conducted its studies every year since. KBMML has produced over 60 scientific publications on humpback whale biology and behavior.

Whale Trust: Meagan Jones (with Jim Darling and Flip Nicklin)

Whale Trust is dedicated to bridging marine research with environmental education and conservation programs related to whales and their natural environment. Ongoing research programs in Hawai‘i focus on the social function of humpback whale songs and the reproductive behavior and mating strategies of female humpback whales.


Oceanwide Science Institute: Marc Lammers

Founded in 1998, Oceanwide Science Institute (OSI) is a Hawai‘i-based non-profit organization specializing in issues related to marine research, conservation, and education.

Penguin Bank

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary: David Mattila

David Mattila, the science and rescue coordinator for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary has studied humpback whales since 1978. Mattila was one of the coordinators instrumental in the conception and completion of the Years of the North Atlantic Humpback (YONAH), the largest international whale research project ever attempted, prior to SPLASH.

In addition, several individuals and research groups contributed opportunistically to the SPLASH project. These include:

Ann Zoidis, Cetos Research Organization and Allied Whale
Dan McSweeney, Wild Whale Research Foundation
Robin Baird, Cascadia Research Collective