Monday, March 31, 2008

Status Report and more on Navy Sonar

We are still playing a recording of this season's whale songs.  Sea conditions did not allow a repair trip today, and work load demands will likely delay repairs until sometime Wednesday.  An article in today's Navy Times describes the tension between the Navy, the courts and environmental groups arguing for protection of the 26 some species of marine mammals in Hawai'i's waters.  I can't help thinking there has to be a solution that ensures safety of our fleet and nation, while protecting the ocean environment.  Technology, politics, diplomacy, arms control agreements can all play a part.  Any bright ideas out there?  Please comment.  Aloha, Dan

Hydrophone problem

The feed from Hokumoanalani was mysteriously quiet early today, and then got very noisy. There's a problem out there in the ocean, and I won't be able to look at it until this afternoon. I'm putting on a recording made earlier this season until the problem is fixed.

Quiet Hydrophone this morning

Lots of whales were singing last night into the early morning hours. This morning is mysteriously quiet, and a trip to the buoy will probably be required to see/hear what's going on out there.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Something Positive on a Sunday Morning

Maybe you got the same email from Al Gore, but if you didn't he's created an organization called We Can Solve It to address global warming.  The effects of global warming on whales and the oceans in general are debatable, but most observers agree it is going to make the world look very different if we don't do something.  Doing something seems important anyway because we are eventually going to run out of oil.  So we might as well do something now rather than later.  Here's a link to Al Gore's website where you can sign a petition and receive more information.  The whale are still singing energetically  this Maui morning.  Occasionally I am losing the feed as we exceed our maximum number of listeners.  We are looking into adding streams.  Much aloha to everyone out there who is listening and reading this.  Take good care.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Whale's numbers are thinning, but still singing

People on the ocean are reporting less whales, as the annual migration to northern waters progresses.  However, we are still hearing lots of singing on the hydrophone.  A problem was reported on the paypal donation button on our home page.  The problem has been fixed.  We are well on the way to raising the $10,000 minimum it takes to keep this project alive.  I'd like to raise $100,000 this year, so we can move forward on other projects including curriculum materials for schools, and outreach to the international education community.  We want children who have never even seen the oceans to have a chance to connect with them and to appreciate their importance for a healthy planet.  Of course we'd like to reach adults as well.  I'm afraid with the ice caps melting (and other problems on the planet) that I'm not sure if we have, as a world society, learned to be responsible adults yet.  Action is needed more rapidly than governments are responding.  What can we do?  I ask myself that question all of the time (exasperated).  One of my favorite sources of information and positive ideas come from David Suzuki.  You might want to check out his web page.  Aloha to all.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dolphin and Whale Ineraction

Many of us here in Hawai'i have witnessed interactions between dolphins and whales.  Often we see dolphins with mother and baby whales, especially around the time of birth.  People speculate that the dolphins may be there to protect the baby whale, or to assist in some way.  I don't know if there is really any way to have definitive insights about these behaviors.  But there appears to be interaction and what could be interpreted as protective behavior.

We do know that dolphins have the ability to visualize, through use of their "sonar" and large brains, images of objects in the water.   Dolphins are known to either sense or "see" when human women are pregnant, and display protective behaviors around them.  

I'm thinking about these things as I watch a YouTube video sent to me by my sister, Laurie Praskin.  This TV clip describes a dolphin in Aotearoa (New Zealand) saving two stranded whales.  If you watch this  you can see that it's not a stretch of the imagination to deduce that there are acts of compassion and cooperation in the cetacean world - between species.  You'll also see the dolphin playing with children at the beach.  Here's the clip.  Thanks, Laurie!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I am inspired by the support and interest shown to our project in these recent weeks.  The benefit concert was a success and there have been more donations.  Our basic operations cost about $10,000 per year, and we are well on the way to getting there.  This year I hope to make us a more effective organization by raising much more so we can do a lot of things we have been dreaming interviews, more documentation of cultural ties to the whales and oceans,  curriculum materials, the web cam, etc.  We have been invited to participate in the Ritz Carlton Environmental Program, which is now directed by Iokepa Naeole.  Iokepa is an inspiring man of the ocean who, among other things, works with children on educational projects related to the oceans and the environment.  See Iokepa on this trailer for the movie Message in the Waves, produced by BBC.  I highly recommend this movie.  As a result of the movie, many cities in England are banning plastic bags.  Plastics are killing a lot of marine life.  See the movie, please.  It addresses the problems in the oceans, but it is very inspiring at the same time.  Beautiful cinematography.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Whalesong Project at Celebration of the Arts

Aloha kakou to everyone from the Ritz Carlton Kapalua, where we are participating for our sixth year by bringing the live whale songs to the event, and talking story about the whales and oceans. This is a very important cultural event, not just for Maui. People come from all over the world, and Hawaiian cultural practitioners come from throughout the Hawaiian Islands. We will be here all day Saturday. Please come join us and experience this very important event. More info on the event here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Whale Song Concert Tonight

The whales are really singing this afternoon, and we are looking forward to bringing their live songs into our concert tonight at 8 PM Studio Maui, Ha'iku.  Thanks to all of you who have volunteered time and energy to make this happen.   I look forward to seeing some of you there!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Humpback Calves indeed produce "vocalizations"

Whales are mysterious creatures, and I have learned to be humble and cautious when making any statements or speculations about their behaviors.  Seven years ago I was strongly criticized by a whale research scientist for stating (to a local newspaper) that some of the sounds we hear on our hydrophone are mother-calf communications.  It seemed obvious to me for some reason, and we have also observed these communications while kayaking off the coast here with a hydrophone. Research by the Cetos Research Organization has now "confirmed evidence that humpback whale calves produce sounds."   Whew!  I appear to have been vindicated.  They also confirm there are vocal communications between mothers and calves, and that both male and female calves produce vocalizations.    Read more in the Honolulu Advertiser article.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

System Working! New U.N. Warning on Climate

The hydrophone system is working well this Sunday morning on Maui.  Reports say that whale numbers are thinning, and we are noticing fewer whales singing.  This appears to be normal for this time in the season.

A story on the CNN website this morning says the world's glaciers are melting more rapidly than predicted.   "There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine, " United Nation's Environment Program executive director, Achim Steiner, is quoted as saying.  "The glaciers are perhaps among those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice."  Read the full story.  

We at The Whalesong Project are taking notice.  Some islands south of here are already losing their beaches and becoming uninhabitable due to rising ocean levels.  The Whales are another rather large canary in the "mine."  Is this why some people call them the "canaries of the oceans," I wonder. Predicted climate change events that are in place could be extremely disruptive for whales....and humans...coral...the whole planetary ecosystem.  When scientist author David Suzuki was here recently, he suggested that addressing climate change, moving to non polluting energy sources, should be approached with the same fervor that America did to put a man on the moon.  "Anything less," he said, "would be un-American.......and difficult to explain to our grandchildren."  I think he made some good points.  

If any of you on Maui have time, please come to our benefit concert on Wednesday......print out our flyer and spread it around or tell your friends.  It will be a very interesting evening, and any proceeds will keep our hydrophone working and expand the project.  Mahalo!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Navy Sonar Use in Hawai'i - Important Information

There will be a public hearing on proposed sonar maneuvers in Hawai'i waters on Maui this Friday, 5-9 pm at Maui Waena Intermediate School. The Hawai'i Ocean Noise Coalition with Dr. Marsha Green will hold a public rally at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center at 3:30 pm on the same day. Written testimony to the Navy can be submitted by email at  More on the Navy side of the story.

The fact that sonar can cause harmful effects to marine mammals under certain conditions is well documented.   Then there is the question of National Security. We all care about that. And I hope we all realize that we can't have true security if we don't have a healthy ocean environment. I for one think the Navy could do themselves a really big public relations favor by waiting until the mothers and new babies have left Hawai'i waters before these tests begin, if they do. Please study this issue yourself and comment if you have something to say.

Monday, March 10, 2008

System Working! - Ocean Stories from Listeners

The system is working, which always makes it easier for me to breathe and catch up on my work that pays the bills.  A few interesting ocean related stories came in today.  This one from Whalesong Project Chairman, Ed Bigelow says some people in Norway want to save the planet by eating whales.  Another one, from Varuna Dargan, says the Arctic ice is melting much faster than expected.  Thanks to both of you for taking the time and for caring.   Let's all do what we can for the oceans.  If you'd like to see some beautiful panoramas of Maui, visit Ed's website.  Aloha to all, Dan

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Server maintenance this afternoon

Our streaming audio server at will be undergoing maintenance from 4 pm to 7 pm this evening (Hawai'i time). We don't know if this will affect our live feed or not, but we'll keep our ears and eyes on the situation.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The System is working!!!

Everything is working well again after a trip to the shore station to deal with a software issue.  Thanks to Robert Bonifacio for making the trip with me and adding his technical skills to our team.  Please enjoy the live whale songs, and remember to check out our Benefit Concert on March 19.  The project is run by volunteers who put in their own time and money, but the project is expensive and we have a lot we want to do that requires resources.  You can support the project by attending, and inviting your friends to the Concert.  It will be an enriching evening and I look forward to meeting more of our listeners there.  Aloha, Dan

Friday, March 7, 2008

Temporary Technical Problem

We have lost the live feed from Honua'ula to our server in California. Hokumoanalani, our buoy off the coast, appears to be working fine. Attempts to fix the problem remotely have not worked. Please enjoy the songs of whales recorded earlier this season while we troubleshoot and repair the problem.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

System Upgrade

From our technical outpost on the coast of Honuaola: We just installed a better graphics equalizer here at our shoreline base.  We hope this will enhance your listening experience by reducing the popping sounds made by shrimp who live near Hokumoanalani.  One of our Cultural Advisors and longtime Whalesong Project supporters, Nahi Guzman,, has dropped by to check on the project.  Mahalo nui, e Nahi, for all of your help and friendship throughout the lifetime of this project.... eight years already

Monday, March 3, 2008

The system is working well again

A trip to Honuaula has paid off in a successful repair of the hydrophone system.  Everything is working  well, and the whale songs you are hearing are indeed live.  Fascinating songs this Monday afternoon....    On my drive over I listened for the first time to David Rothenberg's CD and was deeply moved by the songs he collected and compiled, and by the delicate weaving of his instruments with the whale songs.  His website for the project is  We are looking forward to having David back on Maui very soon, and to the concert/sharing at Studio Maui on March 19.  David will also be with Whalesong at the Ritz Carlton Hotel for Celebration of the Arts on Easter Weekend.  See for more info.  Please come visit us there as we share whale songs, live and recorded, and talk story with the community.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Back to recorded songs during system repair

I'm sorry to report the system is currently down.  I will do a site visit tomorrow and hope to have the live whale songs back on the air at that time.  We are now playing a recording made off of Lahaina earlier this season by Kent.  Regarding the March 19 benefit concert for The Whalesong Project at Studio Maui - we just got confirmation today from Amara Pagano that she will lead a Five Rythms dance session to our live whale songs with David Rothenberg and other "live" human musicians, after David's presentation.  Amara is a very popular and beloved Five Rythms dance teacher here on Maui, and in Olympia, Washington.  Thank you, Amara!!!  This should be an exciting evening!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Benefit Concert for The Whalesong Project

Hokumoanalani, our buoy off the coast of Honuaula, is working well these days. We are now turning our attention to an important event on Maui - for those of you who love the songs of the whales, and seek a deeper understanding of their world. David Rothenberg, author of Why Birds Sing......also a great musician himself.....has just completed another book: The Thousand Mile Song - Whale Music in a Sea of Sound. David will be perfoming a benefit concert for The Whalesong Project on March 19 at The Studio Maui, 8:00 pm. All proceeds will help us to maintain Hokumoanalani and other vital operations. We are a volunteer organization, pay no rent or salaries, so help is appreciated in keeping this relatively expensive operation alive. Thank you, David! Keaolani will open for David with Hawaiian Music and Hula, and the event will end with a "dance jam" to live whale songs accompanied by David and surprise human guest musicians. I hope to see many of you there! Thanks for listening!