In Search of (Toothed) Whales off Kona

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In Search of (Toothed) Whales off Kona

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Hawaii Island
Nov 09, 2011

A team of researchers is plying the waters off Kona on Hawaii (Big) Island right now. Led by Robin Baird of Cascadia Research Collective, they are in search of whales. No, not humpbacks. But odontocetes—toothed whales. The research project’s objectives are plenty. One primary one is to follow up on previously satellite-tagged animals to examine circulation in the dorsal fin. That is being accomplished with the use of forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) imagery. Another objective is to study the acoustic behavior of melon-headed and false killer whales. Special digital acoustic tags will help there. And, then, there’s a host of additional objectives like deploying satellite tags to assess movements and habitat usage. Photo-identification of animals—usually of the dorsal fins—to assess abundance and social organization. And collecting biopsy samples for genetic and toxicology studies.

To date, the team has encountered groups of these odontocetes:

-Pygmy killer whales
-Spyhopping short-finned pilot whales
-Bow-riding melon-headed whales
-Breaching Cuvier’s beaked whales
-Striped dolphins
-Fluking sperm whales
-Rough-toothed dolphins
-Dwarf sperm whales
-Blainsville beaked whales
-Leaping false killer whales
-Wake-riding pantropical spotted dolphins
-Spinner dolphins


Today, I joined the group, and we encountered:

-Spotted dolphins.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Responses:

Andrea | Nov 18, 2011 03:39 PM

So excited for you to tag whales! Would also love to see pictures of the whales being tagged and released.

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