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What studies in the main Hawaiian Islands can tell us about the whales and dolphins ofPapahānaumokuākea

Knowledge of dolphins and whales in Papahānaumokuākea has lagged behind what is known of these species from around the main Hawaiian Islands. But studies in the main Hawaiian Islands can be used to infer how dolphins and whales may use the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands based on what is known from sighting surveys, acoustics, and some limited tagging studies. This presentation will highlight what is and isn’t known about some of the dolphin and whale species that use Papahānaumokuākea, including resident spinner dolphins and false killer whales, and likely resident Bryde’s whales, bottlenose dolphins, and Cuvier’s beaked whales. Tagging studies off Kaua‘i have shown linkages between the main Hawaiian Islands and Papahānaumokuākea, with false killer whales from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands population moving between them. Populations of most other species seem likely to use one or the other area, given the ecological differences between the two areas. Much remains to be learned!

Dr. Robin Baird is a Research Biologist with Cascadia Research Collective, a non-profit research organization based in Washington state, and an Affiliate Faculty with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology and Hawai‘i Pacific University. He has been studying whales and dolphins in Hawaiian waters for over 20 years, and is the author of The Lives of Hawai‘i’s Dolphins and Whales: Natural History and Conservation, published by University of Hawai‘i Press.

For more information on his research on Hawaiian whales and dolphins check out http://www.cascadiaresearch.org/projects/hawaii

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