Hawaii Research

Pacific Whale Foundation's research labs are located at our headquarters on Maui, overlooking Ma'alaea Bay. Our labs hold our library of more than 6,000 individually identified marine mammals, including humpback whales, false killer whales and dolphins. Ongoing analysis of new photoidentification data takes place in our labs year-round.

Our offices are also located just footsteps away from Ma'alaea Harbor, the departure point for many of Pacific Whale Foundation's ecotours. With our Whale & Dolphin Tracker Program, we are able to gather data from all of our vessels' sightings of whales and dolphins. 

Our current research studies in Hawaii include the following. (Please click on the name of the study to review additional details.)

Distribution of Odontocetes in Maui Four-Island Region Using Platform of Opportunity Data

To understand year-round distribution of odontocetes (toothed whales and dolphins) in the four island region of Maui using historical data collected by Pacific Whale Foundation's eco-tour vessels during regular operations.

Great Whale Count

To use citizen science to engage members of the public and promote environmental stewardship, while contributing toward a long-term humpback whale sighting dataset in Maui.

Hawaiian Humpback Whale Catalogue

To develop a database of known photo-identified individuals.

Marine Debris and Odontocete Study in the Maui Four-Island Region

The overall goal of this study is to monitor trends in marine debris accumulation and potential overlap with odontocete distribution in waters of the Maui Four-Island Region. Our goal is to encourage the support of similar initiatives and reduce the amount of debris that enters our oceans.

Odontocetes of Maui

To determine distribution and movement patterns of odontocetes as well as site fidelity and association patterns of known individuals in the four-island region of Maui.

Social Structure of False Killer Whales in Maui Waters Based on Photo-Identification Data

To photo-identify as many false killer whales using the Maui Four-Island Area as possible in order to understand group cohesion and stability, age structure, reproductive rates and association patterns.

Surprise Encounters With Humpback Whales

Surprise encounters, i.e., where boats unexpectedly encounter humpback whales, have been on the rise in Maui waters possibly because the number of whales coming back to winter here has been increasing. Our goal is to understand if there are specific factors that influence the probability of an encounter occurring, above and beyond the increasing number of whales. Surprise encounters and near misses could also be used as proxies for ship collisions.