Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Honolulu, HI, United States

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Honolulu, HI, United States
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Apprill A.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Robbins J.,Center for Coastal Studies | Eren A.M.,Josephine Bay Paul Center | Pack A.A.,University of Hawaii at Hilo | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Microbes are now well regarded for their important role in mammalian health. The microbiology of skin - a unique interface between the host and environment - is a major research focus in human health and skin disorders, but is less explored in other mammals. Here, we report on a cross-population study of the skin-associated bacterial community of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae ), and examine the potential for a core bacterial community and its variability with host (endogenous) or geographic/environmental (exogenous) specific factors. Skin biopsies or freshly sloughed skin from 56 individuals were sampled from populations in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and South Pacific oceans and bacteria were characterized using 454 pyrosequencing of SSU rRNA genes. Phylogenetic and statistical analyses revealed the ubiquity and abundance of bacteria belonging to the Flavobacteria genus Tenacibaculum and the Gammaproteobacteria genus Psychrobacter across the whale populations. Scanning electron microscopy of skin indicated that microbial cells colonize the skin surface. Despite the ubiquity of Tenacibaculum and Psychrobater spp., the relative composition of the skin-bacterial community differed significantly by geographic area as well as metabolic state of the animals (feeding versus starving during migration and breeding), suggesting that both exogenous and endogenous factors may play a role in influencing the skin-bacteria. Further, characteristics of the skin bacterial community from these free-swimming individuals were assembled and compared to two entangled and three dead individuals, revealing a decrease in the central or core bacterial community members (Tenacibaculum and Psychrobater spp.), as well as the emergence of potential pathogens in the latter cases. This is the first discovery of a cross-population, shared skin bacterial community. This research suggests that the skin bacteria may be connected to humpback health and immunity and could possibly serve as a useful index for health and skin disorder monitoring of threatened and endangered marine mammals. © 2014 Apprill et al.

Garrigue C.,British Petroleum | Constantine R.,University of Auckland | Poole M.,Marine Mammal Research | Hauser N.A.N.,Cook Islands Whale Research | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Cetacean Research and Management | Year: 2011

The movement of individual humpback whales between regional breeding grounds of Oceania (South Pacific) was documented by individual identification photographs collected from 1999 to 2004. Photographs were collected with comparable effort across the six years in four primary island breeding grounds: New Caledonia, Tonga (Vava'u) the Cook Islands and French Polynesia (Mo'orea and Rurutu); with smaller effort in adjacent regions: Vanuatu,.Fiji, Samoa, Niue and American Samoa. Interchange among wintering grounds was assessed first with all usable photographs included in each regional catalogue, representing 1,080 regional sightings (including within-region and between-region resightings) of 949 individual whales from Oceania. From this, 28 cases of movement between (mostly adjacent) regions were documented. Previously undocumented interchange was found between regions of central Oceania and the western South Pacific. No individual was sighted in more than two regions during this six-year period. The documented movement between regions was one-directional, except for one individual sighted first in French Polynesia, then in American Samoa and then back in French Polynesia (each in different years). Only one whale was resighted in more than one region during the same winter season. No directional trend was apparent and movement between regions did not seem to be sex specific. A systematic quality control review of all catalogues was then implemented to calculate standardised indices of within-region return and betweenregion interchange, resulting in a quality controlled catalogue of 776 regional sightings of 659 individuals. The standardised indices confirmed that the probability of between-region interchange was low, relative to within-region return, supporting the assumption of multiple management units or stocks in Oceania. The relative isolation of breeding regions and the movement of individuals across the longitudinal borders of Antarctic management Areas V and VI has important implications for the allocation of historical catches from the Antarctic and therefore, for assessing current levels of recovery for breeding stocks.

Martien K.K.,Southwest Fisheries Science Center | Chivers S.J.,Southwest Fisheries Science Center | Baird R.W.,Cascadia Research Collective | Archer F.I.,Southwest Fisheries Science Center | And 12 more authors.
Journal of Heredity | Year: 2014

False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are large delphinids typically found in deep water far offshore. However, in the Hawaiian Archipelago, there are 2 resident island-associated populations of false killer whales, one in the waters around the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) and one in the waters around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). We use mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences and genotypes from 16 nuclear DNA (nucDNA) microsatellite loci from 206 individuals to examine levels of differentiation among the 2 island-associated populations and offshore animals from the central and eastern North Pacific. Both mtDNA and nucDNA exhibit highly significant differentiation between populations, confirming limited gene flow in both sexes. The mtDNA haplotypes exhibit a strong pattern of phylogeographic concordance, with island-associated populations sharing 3 closely related haplotypes not found elsewhere in the Pacific. However, nucDNA data suggest that NWHI animals are at least as differentiated from MHI animals as they are from offshore animals. The patterns of differentiation revealed by the 2 marker types suggest that the island-associated false killer whale populations likely share a common colonization history, but have limited contemporary gene flow.

Robbins J.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Rosa L.D.,Projeto Baleias Brazilian Antarctic Program | Rosa L.D.,University of British Columbia | Rosa L.D.,Grande Rio University | And 8 more authors.
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2011

Humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae are seasonal migrants that mate and calve at low latitudes and feed at mid-to high latitudes. Connections between most Southern Hemisphere breeding and feeding areas are not well understood, but are critical for assessing stock structure and human impacts. Photo-identification was performed to identify the feeding grounds of an Endangered sub-population that breeds in the central South Pacific Ocean (CSP). Identification photographs were obtained from 159 ind. at American Samoa and compared to 3508 Southern Hemisphere humpback whales in the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalogue (AHWC), including 1352 from Antarctic feeding grounds. Two individuals from American Samoa were seen on 3 occasions at the Antarctic Peninsula. This is the first known feeding site for American Samoa and one of few reliably identified for the CSP. AHWC #2950 was confirmed to have undertaken a round-trip movement of no less than 18 840 km, spanning 108 longitudinal degrees. This represents the largest mammalian migration known to date and a departure from historical assumptions about CSP migratory patterns. The frequency, causes, and fitness implications of such movements have yet to be determined. However, distance is the only known extrinsic barrier to humpback whale movement within oceans, and so maximum individual range is 1 factor potentially affecting population exchange and colonization of new habitats. The movement documented here may place this Endangered sub-population at risk if conservation efforts are relaxed in unidentified parts of its range. Yet, the ability of humpback whales to undertake such extensive movements may have also contributed to the apparent recovery of some populations versus other historically exploited whale species. © Inter-Research 2011.

Lammers M.O.,Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology | Lammers M.O.,Oceanwide Science Institute | Pack A.A.,University of Hawaii at Hilo | Pack A.A.,Dolphin Institute | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Cetacean Research and Management | Year: 2013

Injury from collisions with vessels is a growing threat worldwide for many species of whales. Thirty seven years of historical records were examined for evidence of vessel collisions with humpback whales in the main Hawaiian Islands. Between 1975 and 2011,68 collisions between vessels and whales were reported including 59 witnessed collisions and 9 observed whale injuries that were consistent with a recent vessel collision. No collisions were immediately lethal. The waters between Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawc, which arc known to have one of the highest concentrations of humpback whales in the Hawaiian Islands, had the highest incidence of collisions. Over 63% of the collisions involved calves and subadults, suggesting a greater susccptability towards collisions among younger animals. The rate of collisions increased significantly over the final twelve breeding seasons of the study and was greater than predicted by the estimated annual increase in the whale population, suggesting that the rising number of reported collisions cannot be explained solely by the annual increase in whale abundance. Although the total number of registered vessels and shipping traffic in Hawaii remained relatively constant between 2000 and 2010, there was a significant increase in the number of vessels between 7.9m and 19.8m in length. Vessels within this size range were also the most commonly involved in collisions during the study period, accounting for approximately two thirds of recorded incidents. It is concluded that from 1975-2011, there was a significant increase in reports of non-Icthal collisions between vessels and humpback whales, especially calves and subadults, in the main Hawaiian Islands that likely reflects a combination of factors including the recovery of the population of North Pacific humpback whales, increases in traffic of particular vessel types, and increased reporting practices by operators of vessels.

Stimpert A.K.,Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology | Stimpert A.K.,Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey | Mattila D.,Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary | Nosal E.-M.,University of Hawaii at Manoa | Au W.W.L.,Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2013

Despite the importance of young animals to the proliferation of a species, logistic hurdles often prevent the study of individuals' behavior and habitat requirements. This is particularly an issue in the case of cetaceans, which spend a large proportion of their time at depth. We conducted a study to describe the dive behavior of young humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae calves on their breeding grounds in Hawaii, USA. We first implemented and evaluated strategies for approaching whale groups and deploying suction-cup tags (DTAGs), resulting in 3 successful attachments of DTAGs in the winter of 2011. The approach technique that was most successful while minimizing reactions from the whale groups was a passive drift approach. Tagged calves exhibited consistent dives to shallow depths when their groups were stationary, and some deeper dives that approached the ocean bottom, up to 78 m in one case. Mean dive durations ranged from 2.2 to 3.5 min, with calves spending 40% of their time within 3 m of the surface. This is the first study to collect tag data from baleen whale calves less than 6 mo in age and provides habitat use data important for management of this endangered species.

Baker C.S.,Oregon State University | Steel D.,Oregon State University | Calambokidis J.,Cascadia Research Collective | Falcone E.,Cascadia Research Collective | And 15 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2013

ABSTRACT: We quantified the relative influence of maternal fidelity to feeding grounds and natal fidelity to breeding grounds on the population structure of humpback whales Megaptera novae - angliae based on an ocean-wide survey of mitochondrial (mt) DNA diversity in the North Pacific. For 2193 biopsy samples collected from whales in 10 feeding regions and 8 breeding regions during the winter and summer of 2004 to 2006, we first used microsatellite genotyping (average, 9.5 loci) to identify replicate samples. From sequences of the mtDNA control region (500 bp) we identified 28 unique haplotypes from 30 variable sites. Haplotype frequencies differed markedly among feeding regions (overall FST = 0.121, FST = 0.178, p > 0.0001), supporting previous evidence of strong maternal fidelity. Haplotype frequencies also differed markedly among breeding regions (overall FST = 0.093, FST = 0.106, p > 0.0001), providing evidence of strong natal fidelity. Although sex-biased dispersal was not evident, differentiation of microsatellite allele frequencies was weak compared to differentiation of mtDNA haplotypes, suggesting male-biased gene flow. Feeding and breeding regions showed significant differences in haplotype frequencies, even for regions known to be strongly connected by patterns of individual migration. Thus, the influence of migratory fidelity seems to operate somewhat independently on feeding and breeding grounds over an evolutionary time scale. This results in a complex population structure and the potential to define multiple units to conserve in either seasonal habitat.© Inter-Research 2013. www.int-res.com.

Moore M.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Walsh M.,University of Florida | Bailey J.,University of Florida | Brunson D.,Pfizer | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Background: The objective of this study was to enhance removal of fishing gear from right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) at sea that evade disentanglement boat approaches. Titrated intra muscular injections to achieve sedation were undertaken on two free swimming right whales. Methodology/Principal Findings: Following initial trials with beached whales, a sedation protocol was developed for right whales. Mass was estimated from sighting and necropsy data from comparable right whales. Midazolam (0.01 to 0.025 mg/ kg) was first given alone or with meperidine (0.17 to 0.25 mg/kg) either once or four times over two hours to whale #1102 by cantilevered pole syringe. In the last attempt on whale #1102 there appeared to be a mild effect in 20-30 minutes, with duration of less than 2 hours that included exhalation before the blowhole fully cleared the water. Boat avoidance, used as a measure of sedation depth, was not reduced. A second severely entangled animal in 2009, whale #3311, received midazolam (0.03 mg/kg) followed by butorphanol (0.03 mg/kg) an hour later, delivered ballistically. Two months later it was then given midazolam (0.07 mg/kg) and butorphanol (0.07 mg/kg) simultaneously. The next day both drugs at 0.1 mg/kg were given as a mixture in two darts 10 minutes apart. The first attempt on whale #3311 showed increased swimming speed and boat avoidance was observed after a further 20 minutes. The second attempt on whale #3311 showed respiration increasing mildly in frequency and decreasing in strength. The third attempt on whale #3311 gave a statistically significant increase in respiratory frequency an hour after injection, with increased swimming speed and marked reduction of boat evasion that enabled decisive cuts to entangling gear. Conclusions/Significance: We conclude that butorphanol and midazolam delivered ballistically in appropriate dosages and combinations may have merit in future refractory free swimming entangled right whale cases until other entanglement solutions are developed.

News Article | August 27, 2016
Site: phys.org

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Malia Chow said Friday the animal is emaciated and covered in whale lice. At least four sharks were following the whale. She says these are all indicators of a whale in distress. She says the whale isn't entangled and doesn't appear to have been struck by a vessel. She says the animal's poor condition is a mystery. Hawaii's humpback whales normally spend their summers feeding in cold places like Alaska and return to the islands in September or October. Chow says it's not clear whether this whale is one of the first sightings of Hawaii's upcoming whale season or if this whale stayed around from last season.

News Article | August 20, 2015
Site: www.techtimes.com

Coral reefs are dying around Hawaii and researchers have turned to capturing them in 360-degree images to help, allowing for monitoring and further study. In particular, coral reefs are undergoing bleaching, which occurs when water temperature is high. Due to the added heat in the water, corals lose key nutrients and turn white. If bleaching is too severe or recurrent, corals will die. Alarmingly, coral reefs in Hawaii have started to bleach for the second time in two years. According to experts, when bleaching repeats too soon, it doesn't give the coral enough time to recover, which is why recurrent occurrences are likely to lead to death in corals. Extensive bleaching, however, is expected in Hawaii in 2015 because of record hot weather and El Nino weather pattern in the region. At the same time, a large area of hot water not related to the El Nino known as "the blob" is also moving west from mainland U.S. "Unfortunately, from now on the extra heat is going to be quite damaging, and this is where the mortality of the corals goes up," said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, University of Queensland's Global Change Institute director and the chief scientist in the research team responsible for capturing 360-degree images of the corals. The reef-mapping effort is part of a bigger project being carried out by the XL Caitlin Seaview Survey research team to capture thousands of reef images from all over the world. The researchers are doing this to understand why some coral species are likelier to succumb to bleaching compared to others. They are also looking for organisms that are able to better adapt to warming waters, staying healthy despite the rising temperature. For the project, the researchers utilized facial recognition technology and GPS tags to aid in identifying and organizing separate reef systems. They have partnered with Google as well, uploading images to Google Street View so anyone can explore the coral reefs through the internet. So far, the Seaview Survey has gathered data from reefs in Australia, Indonesia, Mexico and the Maldives. The researchers had baseline images from a portion of the Great Barrier Reef which was later destroyed by a typhoon. When they went back for an assessment, the researchers realized the extent of the damage by comparing before and after images. The survey team was recently out in Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii and they were joined by Malia Chow, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary superintendent from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She said she was surprised at how many corals have already begun bleaching.

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