Major Threat: Climate Change

In the last century, humans have been accelerating the rate of climate change to dangerous and unsustainable levels. An increase in strength and frequency of weather events, both on land and in the ocean, have threatened species survival. In addition, many natural processes in the ocean are being affected by the increase in sea surface temperatures. The humpback whale, due to its long migration patterns and reliance on cool, nutrient-rich water, is a good indicator of how climate change is affecting the ocean’s productivity and health.

Pacific Whale Foundation researchers are contributors to the world’s first international research project aimed to establish an understanding of how changing ocean conditions influence the recovery of whale populations in the Southern Hemisphere. Along with PWF are more than 25 researchers from five countries gathering and contributing data to aid a team of researchers from six universities in building a model to predict whale distributions under future climate change scenarios and help to investigate changes influencing population status and conservation of humpback whales.

Project Partners
Fernando Felix, Museo de Ballenas
Susan Bengston-Nash, Griffith University & the Humpback Whale Sentinel Program 
Olaf Meynecke, Griffith University, Whales and Climate project 
Lars Bejder, Marine Mammal Research Program, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Adam Pack, Marine Mammal Laboratory, University of Hawai’i at Hilo

Recent Publications 
2022: von Hammerstein, H., Setter, R.O., van Aswegen, M., Currie, J.J., Stack, S.H. High-resolution projections of global sea surface temperatures reveal critical warming in humpback whale breeding grounds. Frontiers in Marine Science, 668. Download PDF
2021: Currie, J.J., van Aswegen, M., Stack, S.H., West, K.L., Vivier, F. Bejder, L. Rapid weight loss in free ranging pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) and the implications for anthropogenic disturbance of odontocetes. Scientific Reports 11, 8181. Download PDF

Hawaii Visitor Update

Aloha, We Are Open!  Our PacWhale Eco-Adventures are open for booking as we welcome visitors back to Maui.  Quarantine restrictions were lifted on Oct. 15th for those following the state’s pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements.