Updates from our October 2022 Hawai‘i Field Project

We are planning a field effort off Hawai’i Island from October 15th through the 28th. Like many of our Kona field projects, we will be working with a number of different species and have a number of goals. False killer whales are always our highest priority, and we’ll spend time offshore looking for pelagic false killer whales when the weather is really good, as well as inshore looking for insular false killer whales when the weather offshore isn’t quite as good. If we find false killer whales, we hope to deploy LIMPET satellite tags, collect biopsy samples for genetic studies, and get photos to identify individuals.

During the project we’ll also be working with researchers from Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute collecting environmental (e)DNA samples. This effort is funded by the Office of Naval Research, and we’ll be collecting samples from social species such as short-finned pilot whales, pantropical spotted dolphins, and spinner dolphins, as well as more elusive species such as beaked whales and dwarf or pygmy sperm whales. The eDNA samples will be processed by OSU to characterize the population diversity of haplotypes of the social species and determine the species of the elusive species.

The research team will include Colin Cornforth, Jordan Lerma, Robin Baird, Scott Baker, and a number of volunteers. Check back on October 15th for updates on this effort.