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Marine Research, Education and Conservation

Summer 2024:

July has been a surprisingly eventful month for "non-whale" season. We just learned that our recent paper on Kawaihae bay humpback numbers was one of the 10 most cited papers in the scientific journal Marine Mammal Science.

Then, a spearfisherman reported and photographed a humpback whale off O'ahu . A similar unusual sighting was made in July 2023, off of Kona. A fluke photograph of that whale was sumitted to happywhale , but no match has been found.

In June we successfully recovered the SoundTrap acoustic recorder. It was filled with data of the soundscape of Kawaihae Bay. This effort was part of the National Marine Sanctuary's underwater sound monitoring program.

Spring 2024:

We have completed our 23rd research season, and what a season it was! The whales arrived a bit early and numbers remained high through late March. In our shore-based scans, we documented the highest whale counts since 2010, with one record high count of 48 whales in 30 minutes. There were also very high numbers of mothers and calves.

Our new research vessel allowed us to get out on the water in conditions that would have kept our older boat on the trailer. Thanks again to our generous benefactor.

We were able to get good fluke identification photos of over 200 individuals and documented about 30 different mother calf pairs. All very encouraging news. These numbers would be even higher if not for the sustained gusty trade winds in February and March.

Another highlight was our two-week field stint in March with Annie Lewandowski and Katy Payne from Cornell University and Michelle Fournet from the University of New Hampshire. Their work recording humpback whale song was funded by the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. Alia Payne, Katy's granddaughter, hopes to make a film about Katy featuring some of the fieldwork we did this winter.

Happy spring everyone, stay tuned for more results in our forthcoming newsletter.

All of the HMMC people and equipment are safe after the recent wildfires in Hawai'i. The fire burned to the edge of the neighborhood where Chris and Adam live. It was a scary time but we are all safe. The fire swept over our shore station, burning all the grasses, but the kiawe tree at the top appears to have survived.

Shore Station before and after the wildfires

Donations to support our friends and neighbors on Maui can be made at Maui Strong, among other organizations

Our 2023 Newsletter is now available

HMMC has published an article describing 19 years of shore counts in Marine Mammal Science. It describes the rise in local humpback numbers over time and the sudden drop in 2016. The paper discusses how warmer waters in Alaska leads to lower humpback whales numbers in Hawai'i.

HMMC's own Yin, aka Suzanne Yin, has been named to the inaugural class of Society for Marine Mammalogy Fellows for her consistent collection of high quality cetacean abundance and behavior data. We are so proud of her!

News and Publications

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Education and Outreach

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    Presentations to Students

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    Local Public Talks

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    Professional Presentations

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    Pu‘ukoholā Sharks

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Mike Hoffhines was part of the University of Hawai‘i Whale Research Project in the 1990's. While he was a Computer Engineer by trade, he remained interested in marine mammals and frequently returned to help HMMC in the field collecting data. He was always a shining light and a talented scientist. Sadly, we lost Mike to cancer in 2013. We all miss him, his humor, and his love for the ocean and its inhabitants

Hawai'i Marine Mammal Consortium
P.O. Box 6107
Kamuela, HI 96743