This week, we’d like to highlight some of the exciting efforts of the Cascadia Research Collective, one of the organizations that our Maui ecotourism business supports. Founded in 1979, this extraordinary non-profit specializes in scientific research and education, with a focus on marine life.
Earlier this month, Cascadia undertook a 7-day field project from Kawaihae, on the Big Island. They chose this location to help them explore further north of the island than usual, where they hoped to get higher sighting rates of two species in particular. These were the false killer whale and the melon-headed whale. Their primary goal was to get LIMPET satellite tags on members of both species, along with any other types of whales and dolphins they encountered.
Satellite tracking is an extremely effective way to collect data on all species, but especially those with migration patterns and broad habitat ranges. They can tell us many things, including where individuals spend the majority of their time, when they are most active, whether their movement patterns are consistent, and can also be helpful in discovering where and how they reach the end of their lives. All this information can help with crucial government policy decisions, conservation efforts, and the education of the public.
Cascadia’s efforts were fruitful on this trip, which began on May 31st. They encountered a group of false killer whales, which was the rarest out of three groups that comprise the endangered main Hawaiian Islands population. The group had last been seen in August of 2011, and just a couple of individuals had been spotted since May or 2013, so you can imagine their excitement at this rediscovery. Cascadia’s team was able to tag three of the individuals from this group, which was a triumph because none of them had been tagged before, so no one knew where they spent their time. Now they can begin to unravel that mystery.
The team also encountered the melon-headed whales that they were hoping to find. These came from the Kohala Resident population, which is believed to include less than 500 individuals. This encounter was their first with the Kohala Resident population since May 2013. They were able to photo-identify about 100 of the individuals that they encountered out of about 175 that were present at the time. One individual was tagged.
Some of the other species they encountered were short-finned pilot whales, rough-toothed dolphins, and a beautiful whale shark. Cascadia documented their experience with some amazing photos. You can take a look and read more in-depth notes about their journey at www.cascadiaresearch.org. We are proud to support their incredible work through our Maui cruise activities. If you love marine life, just remember that booking one of our cruises will not only provide you with an amazing experience in the beautiful blue Pacific waters of Hawaii, but will also contribute to some of the research pillars in our scientific community. We hope you’ve enjoyed this entry! Mahalo!