Distribution of Odontocetes in Maui County Waters

Project Name:
Distribution of Odontocetes in Maui County Waters based on Platform of Opportunity Data

Project Dates: 
Ongoing

Project Site(s):
Maui County Waters (Four-Island Area), Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Project Aims:
To understand year round distribution of odontocetes in the four island region of Maui County using historical data collected by Pacific Whale Foundation's eco-tour vessels during regular operations.

Project Justification:
The distribution and abundance of odontocetes in Maui County water is poorly understood.  The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is currently undergoing a Management Review.  Part of the Review process will include consideration of adding new species to this single species Sanctuary.

Project Methodology:
Data is opportunistically collected on board Pacific Whale Foundation's eco-tour vessels by trained naturalists who record date, time, species, pod composition, environmental conditions, record GPS locations of cetacean and vessel tracks, and attempt to collect photo-IDs of individual animals.

Project Permits and/or Collaborators:
No permit required given that the cetaceans observed are not actively approached or ‘taken’ by our vessels. This project is conducted by Pacific Whale Foundation's naturalists in collaboration with the Research Department

Management Outcomes:
Understanding distribution patterns of odontocetes in Maui County waters is important. There is a gap in research effort on local species of toothed whales and dolphins, and the conservation status of many of our local species is poorly understood. Data provided goes a long way in enhancing our understanding of the seasonal and daily patterns of at least four commonly encountered species: spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins and false killer whales.

Publications/Presentations:
See Pacific Whale Foundation Publication/Presentation Summary