SPLASH: Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpback Whales in the North Pacific

SPLASH online: The SPLASH catalog and data is now available on line at www.SPLASHcatalog.org

SPLASH Symposium: A report on the SPLASH Symposium held in October 2009 in Quebec which includes extended abstracts of the presentations is available here. This report provides the most complete summary of all aspects of the SPLASH project.

SPLASH Educational presentation: A SPLASH educational presentation and summary (provides a simple overview suitable for kids) has been prepared in collaboration with Larry Wade and Stephen Bolles. Click here to enter this review and also instructional activities.

SPLASH contract report: The first report providing new abundance estimates of humpback whales in the entire North Pacific from SPLASH has been released. This report also provides the first results from all five seasons of the SPLASH effort. Findings from this report were highlighted in a recent news article in Nature and also in a press release issued by NOAA. Links to the Executive Summary or complete report are:

Executive Summary only of report as PDF

Complete SPLASH report as PDF

Other reports and publications on results and genetics analysis from SPLASH: The reports below are available on the genetic findings from SPLASH (click on title for PDF)

Baker, C.S., D. Steel, J. Calambokidis, E.A. Falcone, U. Gozález-Peral, J. Barlow, A.M. Burdin, P.J. Clapham, J.K.B. Ford, C.M. Gabriele, U. Gozález-Peral, D. Mattila, L. Rojas-Bracho, J.M. Straley, B.L. Taylor, J. Urbán-R., P. Wade, D. Weller, B.H. Witteveen and M. Yamaguchi. 2013. Strong maternal fidelity and natal philopatry shape genetic structure in North Pacific humpback whales. Marine Ecology – Progress Series 494:291-306

Barlow, J., Calambokidis, J., Falcone, E. A., Baker, C. S., Burdin, A. M., Clapham, P. J., Ford, J. K. B., Gabriele, C. M., LeDuc, R., Mattila, D. K., Quinn, T. J., Rojas-Bracho, L., Straley, J. M., Taylor, B. L., Urbán R., J., Wade, P., Weller, D., Witteveen, B. H. and Yamaguchi, M. 2011. Humpback whale abundance in the North Pacific estimated by photographic capture-recapture with bias correction from simulation studies. Marine Mammal Science doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2010.004444.x

Baker, C.S., D. Steel, J. Calambokidis, J. Barlow, A.M. Burdin, P.J. Clapham, E.A. Falcone, J.K.B. Ford, C.M. Gabriele, U. Gozález-Peral, R. LeDuc, D. Mattila, T.J. Quinn, L. Rojas-Bracho, J.M. Straley, B.L. Taylor, J. Urbán-R., M. Vant, P. Wade, D. Weller, B.H. Witteveen, K. Wynne and M. Yamaguchi. 2008. geneSPLASH: An initial, ocean-wide survey of mitochondrial (mt) DNA diversity and population structure among humpback whales in the North Pacific.Final report for Contract 2006-0093-008 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. (See also SPLASH summary at Cetacean Conservation Genetics Lab of the Marine Mammal Institute at OSU)

SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks) represents one of the largest international collaborative studies of any whale population ever conducted. It was designed to determine the abundance, trends, movements, and population structure of humpback whales throughout the North Pacific and to examine human impacts on this population. This study involved over 50 research groups and more than 400 researchers in 10 countries. It was supported by a number of agencies and organizations including the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Marine Sanctuary Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Pacific Life Foundation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Commission for Environmental Cooperation with additional support from a number of other organizations and governments for effort in specific regions. Results presented here include a comprehensive analysis of individual identification photographs. Additional analysis of human impacts, ecosystem markers (e.g., stable isotopes) and the genetic structure of populations are underway or planned pending further funding.

Field efforts were conducted on all known winter breeding regions for humpback whales in the North Pacific during three seasons (2004, 2005, 2006) and all known summer feeding areas during two seasons (2004, 2005).  A total of 18,469 quality fluke identification photographs were taken during over 27,000 approaches of humpback whales. After reconciling all within and cross-regional matches (from both the primary match and rechecks), a total of 7,946 (including post-SPLASH updates) unique individuals were cataloged in SPLASH.  A total of 6,178 tissue samples were also collected for genetic studies of population structure, with fairly even representation of wintering and feeding areas.

Reports and reference material for SPLASH

(To download files directly to your computer, right click on link and use “Save Target as…”)

Link to Hawaii National Marine Sanctuary SPLASH web site

Link to Southwest Fisheries Science Center web site on SPLASH