Conservation and Management
   – Implications of Our Work

Findings from Cetos projects have been utilized for conservation and for improved management of wildlife and habitat. Some examples of useful data we have collected, with minimal to no impacts to the animals, and for conservation work include:

  • Projects completed for Northwest Fisheries Science Center (Seattle, WA) analyzing killer whale sounds, building hydrophone arrays, and GIS mapping of satellite derived data in Northwest waters from Washington to Monterey Bay, CA;
  • Successful pelagic (deep water) surveys and studies combining traditional visual-based observations with newer, non-invasive, passive acoustic tracking;
  • Survey data using combined techniques yielding much higher “encounter rates” (of critters) than typical from using either method alone;
  • Survey findings yielding new observations of several species (including some rarely documented in Hawaiian waters); and
  • Survey data resulting in first ever Photo-ID data for the critically endangered Vaquita.

On more than one occasion, through our work we have reported “first ever” visual sightings of marine mammals in new areas, or performed the first baseline surveys in locations. Examples include:

  • First coastal minke whale spotted in coastal Hawaiian waters. This finding was published (see our Archives); 
  • First verified Bryde’s whale sighting in nearshore, main Hawaiian Islands;
  • First verified sei whales off Oahu and first subadults;
  • First photographic data on the critically endangered Vaquita;
  • First ever documentation of humpback whale calf sounds.

Examples of how these findings have conservation applications include:

  • Relaying observations to Federal Agencies that use study area waters; Agencies adding info to their Marine Resource Assessment documents, enhancing safeguards for protected species;
  • Contributing video and shipboard assistance in order to produce marine mammal training videos. Cetos assisted in developing the federal Marine Species Awareness Training DVD. Currently the only one-of-its-kind online identification training course used by several Federal agencies (USCG, US Navy, NOAA, etc.) Training watch standers and spotters to first notice (then ID) a whale or dolphin at sea has huge implications in terms of avoiding ship strikes and preventing impacts. We focused on sighting in bad weather conditions as well;
  • Research from our in-water sound/behavior studies of humpbacks has proven crucial for management of this endangered species;
  • Reporting severely human-caused injured animals to proper authorities in a timely manner, in hopes of saving the animals (see photo below).

Description: Calf Injury

Information on the ecology, behavior, distribution, and habitat requirements for many species is presently lacking. This information is critical if effective and informed decisions are to be made about management and conservation of these important living marine resources. Impacts to marine wildlife from increases in man-made noise and vessels/ human presence in natural habitats is a growing problem. Our work contributes locally in study areas as well as globally for species that occur in many areas. We design our work to contribute to the goals of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Environmental Policy Act.. Assessing impacts from human disturbance is increasingly important and is a major goal of virtually every Large Whale Final Recovery Plan.

We work hard to distribute the most up-to-date information as quickly as we can to management organizations. 

Description: Tom Acoustics