EVEN MORE short-finned pilot whales "Read entire blog"

 

Author: Casandra Chronik
 
The research team was eager to get back on the water to continue with our Odontocete research. We left Lahaina harbour around 8 am on July 19, 2012 aboard Ocean Freedom and set off to look for some offshore dolphin species. 
 
While the sun was shining and the sea relatively calm, we continuously scanned the water for dorsal fins. When Captain Daimar slowed the boat down, we all anticipated it would be a dolphin. Instead, it was the top piece of a Styrofoam container. With group efforts, we managed to retrieve the item from the water and carry on. By the end of the day, we had fished out considerable amount of marine debris including; rope, a swimming noodle, a foam kids hat, more styrofoam containers, a boogie board AND a water-logged paddle board. These items were placed in the appropriate rubbish bins once returned back to shore.
 
After 3 hours of scanning the water, a dorsal fin was spotted in the distance off the Southwest end of Lana'i. As we eagerly approached, we realized this was the dorsal fin of a short-finned Pilot Whale, the same species spotted last week! This is exciting because Pilot Whales are not commonly seen in Maui County waters unless in deeper waters and we've seen them two weeks in a row!! Cameras were out (obtaining photo-identification images) and data sheets were filled in (gathering other important information) while the pod of roughly 10-15 individuals, including a large male, with distinctive scarring, 2 sets of mother-calf pairs and some active porpoising individuals headed West in a general travel.
 
Scarring on whales and dolphins can happen from a variety of sources including entanglement, ship strikes, competition, predators, or even playful acts. The potential for entanglements, is just another reason why marine debris can be harmful to whales and dolphins. The amount of trash obtained that day represents a small portion of what all could really be out there. Do your part in ensuring that rubbish is continually placed in its appropriate bin and never left to wash out to sea. 
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