Saturday, October 23, 2010

Whales are Arriving in Maui Waters

There is a sense of excitement every year on Maui when the first Koholā (our Hawaiian "Humpback" whales) arrive. I prefer the Hawaiian name, rather than the name used by whalers who decimated their population. Whales have now been reported off of Hoʻokipa and Lahaina.

The timing for first sitings seems typical for recent seasons.

Incidentally, the Hawaiian Kolea bird (pictured above) follows a similar migration path to our Koholā - North to Alaska and Siberia in the Summer, back to Maui for the Winter. The Kolea who returns to my yard every year showed up a little later than usual this season, on October 10.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Whalesong Board Member David Rothenberg honored

Iʻm very proud to announce that our very own David has received the "Excellence in Research Prize and Medal" from New Jersey Institute of Technology.

It is awarded by the NJIT Board of Overseers in recognition of a "researcherʻs sustained record of achievement that has enhanced the reputation of NJIT."

In the announcement on their website they say David "personifies the integration of research, instruction, economic development and public service that are this Universityʻs core mission elements."

David is a musician, writer, and philosopher who believes music can help us communicate with birds, whales, and all kinds of creatures. He wrote THOUSAND MILE SONG: Whale Music in a Sea of Sound, which documents his attempts to play his clarinet live with whales, including a section on the Whalesong Project. The book is currently being developed into two films. Otherwise, Rothenberg is a Professor of Philosophy and Music at NJIT. He urges us to listen to live whale songs online and become less human centered.

Our Founding Board Member Nona Beamer was very impressed with Davidʻs work, and took the time to write him a personal letter thanking him for his contribution before she left this realm. Hereʻs another thank you from the rest of us!

E hoʻopomaikaʻi iā ʻoe! (Congratulations, David)!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Meet the Whalesong Project Board of Directors - Kent Noonan

This is Kent Noonan, the Vice President of our Board of Directors. Kent originally joined the project for what he calls "totally selfish reasons." He wanted to hear the whale songs every day and couldnʻt find time to go out in the ocean.

After a couple of years experimenting with home made hydrophones and kayak excursions, he discovered our fledgling project, which was just completing the first season webcasting from a sailboat in Maʻalaea Bay. From the webcast he could hear the whales without having to leave work.

He happened to have some esoteric electronic parts in his lab that were needed for the project, and werenʻt available anywhere else out here in the middle of the Pacific. Dan and Kent met, and an enduring friendship and partnership was born. Kent began to "appreciate what an amazing contribution to the world our project was." He has put in countless hours building and servicing the various generations of buoys so that people all over the planet can connect with the whales and their mysterious songs.

Kent brings wide experience with high tech electronics to our project, and a very big heart. His day job includes lasers, optics, radiation detectors, magnetics, subtle energy research, biomedical applications and more. Ken tries to spend much of his time and energy making the world a better place.

Kent is a big part of The Whalesong Project, and we are all very grateful to have him on board.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Acknowledging the Loss of a Key Whalesong Founder

Itʻs my painful duty to announce the passing of our Founding Board President Ed Bigelow last week. He will be sorely missed by all who had the good fortune to know him.

Ed and and I designed elements of our first Whalesong Project buoy on a napkin at Borders Coffee Shop in Kahului back in 2000. He was a guiding light for our fledgling organization as we became a "legitimate" 501C3 corporation. He was a gracious, intelligent, inspiring and good humored facilitator of our Board Meetings for the eight or so years we have been incorporated, until he resigned last year due to health concerns.

Ed had a big heart and an incredibly intelligent mind. His interests and professional credentials were diverse, including science, economics, solar and alternate energy design and production, photography, art and music.

I met Ed through our mutual love of Hawaiian music, through our Kumu (teacher) and friend George Kahumoku, also a Whalesong Project Founding Board Member.

Ed was introduced to Hawaiʻi by his incredible wife Helen. Their mutual love of Hawaiʻi and Hawaiian Culture has had them contributing in many ways to keeping the culture alive in the world, and in bettering the community around them.

Ed was also one of my best friends and the best kind of friend a person could have. And he was my next door neighbor for the past five years. Those who have attended events at my home can testify that Ed was not only an engaging and delightful presence, and a great guitar and ukulele player, but that he also made one of the best Lilikoʻi cheesecakes on the planet, from passion fruit that he and Helen grow.

What are we going to do Ed? You are irreplaceable. You will live on in our hearts.

The picture below is Ed, George Kahumoku, me jamming at my home, Whalesong buoy in the background.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Project Update

The Whalesong Project is in a holding pattern right now. We hope our last ten years of webcasting the live songs of the Humpback Whales has raised awareness about this endangered species, and our endangered oceans....and about the fact that the oceans are a highly acoustic environment. This is important to know in an age that is filled with noise that can affect life. Whether it is noise generated by boats, underwater oil exploration, acoustic well logging with explosive devices, or sonar for navigation and military purposes.

We feel good about our ten year contribution, and we are assessing whether to put the hydrophone in the ocean this coming season. It is an expensive venture during a time of economic challenges.

We have applied for a grant that could fund this coming season as an educational project with children. We hope this comes through.

If it doesnʻt come through, we will continue to do what we can with the income we can generate. We are an all volunteer organization whose annual income from donations ranges from $500 to $10,000. This year we have raised about $6,000, which was spent already on last seasonʻs operations. We really need about $15,000 per year to operate. With this amount of income we can upgrade, maintain and operate the live webcast with our buoy in the ocean, pay all the associated costs, feed our volunteers from time to time, present at up to 8 events that we are invited to.

If we are not able to raise the money we need, we will continue to do our best and will play recorded whale songs for this season. We hope to put the buoy back in the ocean for the 2011-2012 season.

It is always a lot of work to bring the live songs to the world, which leaves me short on time to thank each of you who have contributed to the project. Thanks to each of you who have supported our work by sending money. Each contribution, no matter how small, has made a difference. Thank you!!!

Aloha, Kaʻili Dan

Friday, June 18, 2010

More on Sperm Whales in the Gulf

Evidently the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission warned of risks associated with oil exploration in the Gulf in the early 1990ʻs. According to this article, these warnings were ignored by federal regulators and BP. The author, Heather Heenehan, is a masterʻs degree student in environmental management at Duke University, and is working on a summer fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Thank you for this excellent article, Heather.

Messing with Mother Nature

CNN quotes one of the workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig....."This well did not want to be just seemed like we were messing with Mother Nature." Read the full article.

How to produce energy and live in harmony with Nature is a challenge, but donʻt we love challenges? If we look at the long term costs, and the costs of unintended consequences, of our energy choices, I think we will find that there are better choices we can be making. We are inventive people. If we make decisions based on facts about what is really serving the people and the planet, I believe we will make better decisions. Can this happen in Washington D.C.? Miracles can happen.

In the meanwhile the oil gushes and we continue to drive our cars. Iʻm thinking about what I can do to make a difference this year in my lifestyle and energy choices, and my contribution. We have officially begun our Haleakalā Institute project. More information and a website will be coming out soon. We have applied for a grant. The project will be educational in nature and will be Maui-based. If we get the grant we will be working with a lot of children on environmental remediation and sustainable energy projects. Use of media in communications will be involved, and all of it will be based on the Hawaiian way of learning, "Ma ka hana ka ʻike" - to learn by doing. More soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gulf oil spill and Whales

There has been a lot of speculation about the impact of the the oil spill on whales and dolphins. This story says NOAA is investigating the death of a Sperm Whale near the accident. In Hawaiian, the Sperm Whale is called Palaoa. The Palaoa are considered a form of Kanaloa, the God of the Ocean. They were hunted to near extinction, and are still an endangered species. Lets hope the problems in the gulf are solved soon, and that some wisdom is developed that will help turn the tide in favor of healthy oceans.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

World Oceans Day - Ocean of Life

The theme of Ocean Day this year is "Ocean of Life." Never has the importance of protecting the oceans seemed more important than this very day. Oil streams into the Gulf of Mexico, toxic plastic gyres are growing, ice caps are melting, the ban on commercial whaling may be lifted with support from Washington D.C.

Hereʻs hoping we will wake up and focus more diligently, as a world community, on the importance of the oceans to All Life on this planet. If you want to do something positive today for the oceans, please consider a donation to The Whalesong Project - so we can continue our work, with our all-volunteer team. Your money goes a long way with us, and we are operating on a very thin shoe string these days. Thanks to each of you out there who have contributed with your time, energy, money! With support we expand our activities, without support we have to pull back, and we donʻt want to do that in this challenging time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Whalesong Project Board Member George Kahumoku honored

I am pleased to report that Whalesong Project Founding Board Member George Kahumoku was honored with the "Aloha Is" Award for community service at the annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards ceremony in Honolulu. He was recognized "for his support of individuals and entities ranging from dropout students and Maui Community Correctional Center inmates cultivating taro in Waiehu to work with Maui Nui Botanical Gardens and the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge." Read the full article.

Those of us who know George know that he never stops. He is an enduring presence in the world, not just on Maui. He has nurtured young Hawaiian students to become Grammy Awards winners, worked with "at risk" youth for decades, volunteered for countless fund raisers. Sometimes you could fill a page with his activities in just one day. Congratulations George! You deserve it.

At the same ceremony Mauiʻs Hula Honeys won the best Hawaiian Jazz Album of the Year. Jonathan Drechsler, the bass player, volunteers for Whalesong Project! Congratulations Jonathan - and Ginger and Robin.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Mystery of Pu'u Koholā

As we approach the 200th anniversary of the unification of the Hawaiian Islands, much attention is focused on Pu'u Koholā. It was here that Kamehameha built this large heiau before his unification quest. Some call it the "hill of the whale" and some say it resembles a whale. Some have suggested that perhaps the Koholā, the Hawaiian Humpback Whale, was an ʻaumakua of King Kamehameha. Others give a different explanation for the name. Koholā can also mean "chosen day," and there was a belief that the prophesies around Kamehameha and the unification of the islands required consecration of this heiau on a particular day. Hawaiian language and mythology is is filled with kaona, hidden meaning, metaphor. It is possible the name means both. Another puzzling fact: One of Kamehamehaʻs names is Paiʻea. Those of you who watched the movie Whale Rider may recall that the Maori prophet who rode the whale was Paikea, which is how one would say Paiʻea in Maori. Paikea was said to have come from Hawaiki, Hawaiʻi. We may never know the full mystery of this possible connection between Kamehameha The Great and the whales.