Pacific Whale Foundation researchers first visited Japan in 1987 to collect photo-identification data over three breeding seasons in an effort to help establish whale watching as a financially viable alternative to whaling. The country has remained an area of interest due to our whaling cessation advocacy work and support of whale watching as a platform for public education.
Our collaborative project, based in the waters of Okinawa Island, began in 2021 to increase our knowledge of under-studied whales and dolphins in the area, such as the endangered Western North Pacific DPS of humpback whales that come annually to breed from January to March.
While we are still in the early stages of our work in Japan, we are committed to building strong partnerships with local communities, researchers and other stakeholders to achieve our shared goals. Through the development of innovative research and monitoring programs, we hope to better understand the challenges facing whale and dolphin populations in the region and identify strategies for protecting them for future generations.
1 of the 5 major threats we research in this location
Unsustainable TourismIn response to PWF’s swim-with-whales study in Australia, whale researchers in Okinawa, Japan, approached us voicing concerns about the sustainability of Japan’s commercial swim-with-whales industry. We have since initiated research to study the potential impacts of these unregulated tours, with the goal of contributing scientific data that could be used to develop regulations for this existing tourism activity.
Marine Animals We Study in Japan
From Our Blog
2016: Brierley, A. & Clapham, P. Japan’s whaling is unscientific. Nature (529), 283.
1998: Forestell, P.H. The human approach to cetaceans: Idolization, colonization, or urbanization? The 7th International Dolphin and Whale Conference, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan: 28-29 March.
1994: Forestell, P.H. A New Dawn for the “Noble Savage” – Can We Talk to Animals If We Don’t Know How to Listen? The 4th International Dolphin and Whale Conference, Enoshima, Japan: 8 April.
1994: Forestell, P.H. Two Minds in Troubled Waters: Balancing the Human/Cetacean Equation. The 4th International Dolphin and Whale Conference, Ogasawara, Japan: 16 April.
1990: Helweg, D.A., Herman, L.M., Yamamoto, S. and Forestell, P.H. Comparison of songs of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) recorded in Japan, Hawaii, and Mexico during the winter of 1989. Scientific Reports of Cetacean Research, 1: 1-20. Download PDF
1989: Helweg, D., Herman, L.M., Yamamoto, S. and Forestell, P.H. Comparison of 1989 humpback song from Japan, Hawaii, and Mexico. The 8th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Monterey, CA, USA: 7-11 December.
1989: Kaufman, G.D., Mochizuki, A., Forestell, P.H. and Kodaka, A. Humpback whales in Ogasawara, Japan: distribution patterns and pod characteristics. The 8th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Monterey, CA, USA: 7-11 December.
1989: Yamamoto, S., Helweg, D.K., Herman, L.M. and Forestell, P.H. Comparison of 1989 humpback song from Japan, Hawaii, and Mexico. The 8th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Monterey, CA, USA: 7-11 December.