Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our buoy is in the renovation stage right now. Itʻs a night and weekend project for us. Thanks to Paulo (picture below) for his late night dedication. Our goal is to have improved performance and have it in by Christmas, but there are a lot of variables. Many thanks to all who have contributed to our project over the years. Sending aloha and gratitude to each of you.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tangled up In Blue - Maui Humpack Tangled, Blue Whales Song Lower

Two stories that are breaking in the Whale world today:

A juvenile Humpback is tangled in rope between Maui and Molokai, as teams prepare to entangle it. See Story. This points out the importance of reducing ocean nets, ropes, debris, which create problems for whales and dolphins.

Also, researchers are documenting the fact that the songs of the Blue Whale are getting lower in frequency. There is speculation on causes, and more about the mystery of these songs. See Story.

I'm back on Maui after extended travel, and will be working on the buoy, with the hopes of having her in the ocean by Christmas.

If you would like to contribute to this all-volunteer project, right now money to pay for batteries, a computer for the webcast, parts and supplies would be greatly appreciated. There is a Paypal button on the right side of this page.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whales are arriving - Project Status Update

As the whales return, we volunteers at The Whalesong Project are scrambling to raise money to get the buoy back in the ocean. Itʻs an annual ritual, it seems for us. Launching and nurturing the project each whale season takes a lot of time and attention. Last season saw us participate in more events than ever, and at the same time our income dropped dramatically. At the end of each season we scramble back to our paying jobs so we are able to participate in another whale season, which always arrives faster than we expect. We always hope to have the buoy in early so we can hear the early season songs, but we do the best we can.....which means if everything goes well we will have her in the ocean by Christmas...which is when the babies start showing up and the singing begins in earnest. Of course, no one can really prove yet why these mysterious songs are sung, and why they evolve the way they do each year. I keep listening each year in fascination, and something new is learned each year. Maybe, like a puzzle, the "picture" of what we are hearing will be come clearer with time. In the meanwhile, listening and enjoying the fact that these beautiful creatures are still with us after a close brush with extinction, is an annual ritual and celebration for me.

The older Hawaiians tell us that the Whales arrive when the Makaliʻi, the Pleides, come up over the horizon and the Sandalwood Trees blossom. Itʻs the ancient season of the God Lono, who represents peace and agriculture. Itʻs a season when any war ceased. That season is upon us.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Whales Arriving - A New Season Begins

This unusual photo shows the President of the Maldive Islands at an underwater cabinet meeting, signing a document calling on all countries to cut their carbon dioxide emissions. Rising sea levels could put the Maldives under water. See Story.

We at Whalesong Project remain committed to raising awareness about ocean health issues, and to promoting activities that will protect the worldʻs oceans. We cannot have a healthy planet without healthy oceans.
I am in Thailand right now, where the ASEAN Community just completed their annual conference. They have made a strong unified commitment to dealing with global warming. Not far from here, the new Prime Minister of Japan has made a promise of aggressive cuts of carbon dioxide emissions, and a new generation of electric cars are being showcased. China is making great strides in solar cell production. But the challenges sometimes seem daunting, with the ice caps melting at unanticipated rates.

Switching topics, I, for one, am happy that our President received the Nobel Peace Prize. Without nuclear arms control and trust building, itʻs hard to imagine how we are going to be able to reduce the amount of sonar being used by the military powers of the world. Sonar is a problem if you are a whale or a dolphin, and use of sonar is growing. Congratulations President Obama! And thanks for recognizing global warming!

This picture was taken during a recent system upgrade meeting, as we prepare for season 10. Rich Shipley, shown on the computer desktop talking to me by Skype (Iʻm in Thailand), has been a vital part of the project since the beginning. Heʻs in California, and heʻs adding 100 more 64K audio streams. We plan these streams to be launchable from more platforms, easier to use, more reliable. Behind Rich is the new Whalesong German website http://www.whalesong.info, which was put together by Markus Enderle and his crew in Germany. We might be spread out, but we are committed. The whales are already arriving. New challenges await us all. Letʻs pull together and do the best we can, okay?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting ready for Season Number 10

The Whalesong Project is preparing for Season Ten! We continue to hear from teachers and students, and all kinds of people who are listening to our live webcast every year. We continue to operate as an all-volunteer organization focused on inspiring people to care for the oceans. We feel we made progress recently when the first necropsy was performed on Maui that looked at the ears of the beached whale for acoustic trauma. This is something we have been talking to numerous politicians and agencies about for the past nine years. We also are making progress on a new initiative to model sustainable living ideas on our home Island, Maui. We need to change our lifestyle as a species if we are going to slow the melting of the glaciers and keep the oceans healthy. We are calling this project Haleakalā Institute. Please join us in our work by volunteering, or by pushing the Paypal button on the right top side of this page.
Your donations will give our volunteers some money to work with on this labor of love. Last year was a challenging one financially and we are hoping for more support from our listeners this season, so we can make improvements and move our new projects forward. Thank you!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From California - Discovery of a Five Million Year old Whale

Iʻm in California this month catching up with family and my work. Here in Santa Cruz, an amateur archaeologist has discovered what is believed to be a five million year old fossilized whale. This video clip from KTVU TV shows a little footage from the "secret location."

Our friend, Pierre Lavagne, in his upcoming movie on whales, describes the whale song as a "million year" song. Maybe a lot longer than that, Pierre.

Itʻs interesting to think about a song that evolves and changes each year - that may have been sung for millions of years.

We are now hoping to raise the funds to keep our project alive into its tenth year of bringing the millions-of-years-old song into the human world through modern technology....in the hopes that our human awareness that we are all connected will deepen - and that we will collectively take action to keep these songs alive into the future.

Aloha, Dan

Friday, May 29, 2009

We brought the buoy in!

We went to Sea on Sunday and brought Hōkūmoanalani back to shore. Our crew, left to right is Philip Gordon, Hein Hazenberg (from Amsterdam), Terry, Captain Willy Bennet (with his boat behind our group), Eva Gueke, and Trisha Pualani Cabral. Big thanks for a successful mission!!! The buoy is in excellent working condition and we had a wonderful time into the ocean while we were out there, thanks to Captain Willy and the professional yet fun loving crew that assembled for the adventure.

The cleaning was done at sea, and we always strive to leave every living creature safely in the ocean when we pull the buoy out. The photo above by Philip Gordon shows the buoy is in basically good shape for when our singing Koholā (humpback whales) return next fall. We are lucky in this project to be surrounded by mermaids and dolphins. The dolphins below were photographed by Whalesong Project supporter Pamela Kaʻimiloa Polland.

Teaser for the French Whale Movie - Pierre Lavagne, David Rothenberg, Whalesong Project - Directed by Dominique Lenglart

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Back to Recorded Songs - and more David Rothenberg on Whalesong audio processing

Well, the live whale songs have receded into the background, and our buoy and related technology on the other side of the island need some attention. Iʻve gone back to recorded songs on our webcast. The webcast recorded songs have not been processed, as our live songs are not - except for a little bit of EQ to reduce the high frequency "noise" produced by the shrimp out there on the reef.

During his recent visit, David Rothenberg introduced us to a world of audio processing that he sometimes uses on his CD tracks with whale songs. Some of the technology is very interesting to us, because we can actually reduce the noise of the surface water motion and shrimp - and focus on the whales. We are saving money to buy the software and give it a try next season.

Anyway, I put up a short video clip here - of Davidʻs workshop for our project team. Thank you David!

There are still reports of whales out there, but sightings are becoming less frequent as they head north. Itʻs been a beautiful whale season. Thanks to all of you who have shown support in one way or another!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

David Rothenberg on Whalesongs, Whale Intelligence and more

Our friend David Rothenberg, who is a Professor of Music and Philosophy at New Jersey Institute of Technology, was interviewed by Daniel Oritz, Director of the award winning movie "Humpback Codes," while visiting us recently. We "eavesdrop" (with permissions) on part of that interview.

David discusses, among other subjects, the role the "discovery" of the whale songs had in leading to a movement to protect the whales, about the brain features and intelligence of whales, and what it is like to play music with the whales.

David is author of Why Birds Sing and The Thousand Mile Song - Whale Music in a Sea of Sound.

There are companion CDs with each of his publications that I highly recommend if you are interested in the songs of the natural world and the interaction of humans in that realm. David is an inspiring musician.

Papa Kai ʻohana - Our Ocean Family

This photo was taken in Mexico where the "Gray Whales" regularly approach boatloads of people and enjoy human interaction. At one such place the government was convinced that it was better for the economy to have environmental tourism than to let a large corporation destroy the whaleʻs habitat with an industrialized salt production facility.

Why do the whales reach out to us, when it is the human species that hunted them to near extinction, and who continues to make life difficult for them? I find myself thinking it might be that we are a disfunctional family. My Hawaiian friend "Uncle" Les Kuloloio calls our large family "papa kai ʻohana." With my limited understanding of the Hawaiian language, I translate this to mean "the ocean mother earth family." When you think about it, many cultures refer to the earth as our Mother, and it doesnʻt take a lot of scientific observation to notice that "we" come from "her"..... and that we are alive because she nurtures us with the things that are essential for life....and that "she" is made up largely of ocean waters. The salinity of the blood in our veins is the same as the salinity of her ocean waters. "Uncle Les" goes on to say that the whales were viewed as "sacred" beings...in the realm of the Gods...the "directors of life," by his culture. The sacredness of life is something talked a lot about in most cultures. And our interdependedness is increasingly being recognized by the scientific community.

As I listen to a lone whale singing a beautiful haunting melody out there this early morning, I ponder these issues. Our Koholā are traveling to places North of here. While their numbers have increased....back from the brink of extinction...the journey is still dangerous because of the human side of our extended family. While we like to think of ourselves as smart and scientific, some members of our community blast them with sounds loud enough to make their brains bleed. And claim they are not being harmed, while not looking at their dead bodies to see if harm can be documented.

This puts us in the arena of national security and I again ask the question that I have asked Senators Reid and Inouye, and numerous other politicians that represent us: Do we really have national security without a healthy ocean and environment?

And how do we document the cost of our national security without collecting scientific data and making it public? Iʻm sorry, but this is a sore point for me because I have seen whales swim to shore, disoriented, during Navy sonar exercises.....as the Navy claims that they arenʻt harming whales here. With all due respect I ask at what cost our national security?

Is this necessary, or is it like the flight of Air Force One over Manhattan, something that someone thinks is a good idea without weighing the impact on people and the environment?
Of course you canʻt document the physical harm to the people of Manhattan. The media reports that thousands of terrified office workers evacuated buildings, but no one was physically harmed.

The whales cannot evacuate. The nature of sound in the ocean forces them to endure the incredibly loud sounds that sonar forces on them. Whatever the reason for doing it, I think we have a responsibility to know that we are doing it, and we should know what the results are. Letʻs be real. This is real life, not a game we are playing.

Yet the whales still sing their beautiful mysterious songs, and they still approach us and share affection for us. Perhaps there is hope for our extended family Papa Kai ʻOhana. But I believe we need to speak out, as the Mayor of New York City did, and express outrage when it is appropriate. President Obama was said to be outraged at the incident.

I commend President Obama on the job he is doing. I love the guy. He has a good heart. He obviously needs to reel in people and exert control in his position, and I in doing so I hope he will address the issues of the acoustic health of our oceans. In the meanwhile, I will keep talking to anyone who will listen.

With aloha,

-- Dan

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The buoy is working again!

It is late in the season, but I am happy to report the system is all working again. There are a few whales singing tonight. Please enjoy the last songs of this season, as our Koholā head north for the feeding grounds around Alaska.

Earth Day at University of Hawai'i Mānoa

I always enjoy seeing childrenʻs faces when the listen to the whales. Some listen very deeply. Some dance. It doesnʻt seem to matter how young or old they are, for there to be a fascination and connection. We celebrated Earth Day with our neighbors on Oʻahu last week. It was a great crowd and we met a lot of new friends.
I was really impressed with the commitment that a lot of the Marine Biology Students on Campus have. There is a real passion for taking care of the ocean that left me feeling good.

Members of Victoria Holt-Takamineʻs Hālau Hula performed to a large crowd there on the Mānoa campus.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back to Recorded Whale Songs

Something funny is happening with the buoy. Sometimes she is working and you can hear a few distant whales singing. Sometimes she is intermittent. We are taking her offline for the time being. The songs you are hearing are recorded.

Most of us involved in this project are involved with music in one way or another. We were invited to present at More Fishes Hawaiʻi Conference and to open the conference with some music and hula. We brought some friends, and have included a snapshot of the event in this post. Thank you to Sheldon and Kevin Brown, and Gordean Leilehua Lee Baily and her Halau Wehiwehi o Leilehua.

We have many beautiful memories from this whale season.

Aloha, Dan

Buoy is live again!

Many thanks to Willy (the whale) Bennet for successfully troubleshooting a problem with our broadcast system on the South Side of Maui.  Hereʻs a photo of Willy (with goggles) during adventures at the buoy with the French film team.  Pierre Lavange, the main subject of the film, is in the water (in silver).  We hear from the Director, Dominique, that it will be seen on National TV in France, and that they are looking for connections with U.S. broadcasters. 

The whales are in the distance, and we have turned up the gain on our system to take that into account.  You will be hearing shrimp, boats, paddlers, wave noise, and (if we are lucky) some end-of-season songs to culminate this season.  The whales I hear now are probably ten miles away.  Maybe later tonight weʻll hear something closer.  Thanks for listening!

Aloha, Dan

Earth Day greetings and Buoy Update

We really enjoyed Earth Day at Studio Maui yesterday afternoon and evening. We love to share our project with the community and meet the people who are listening and find inspiration from our project - and other people who are working on various projects to benefit the earth and the environment. Hereʻs a picture of Amber and Sam at our display area last night. They are expecting a baby, and we are all excited about that.

The buoy signal has been intermittent, and the whales are diminishing rapidly in numbers. We are weighing whether to mount a buoy repair mission or to call it a season.

We have an invitation to present at Earth Day at the University of Hawaiʻi campus on Oʻahu this Wednesday. We have also been informed that there is interest in beaming our live songs into deep space from Cape Canaveral again this year - a project of Sirius Institute in collaboration with Earth Day University of Hawaiʻi Hilo Campus.

Itʻs been a very busy season, and the costs of the project have vastly exceeded our income. Itʻs a challenging time for everyone right now, and we are not exempt. Even though we are an all-volunteer organization, and we enjoy the project tremendously, we may need to end the season so we can recuperate financially and be ready to go again next year.

Right now we are playing a recording, while we evaluate the situation. Thanks to all of you who have participated and helped with the project this year, and in past years. Stay tuned!

Happy Earth Day Season

Aloha, Dan

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Iphone Application now available for Whalesong Project

I am very happy to report the development of a dediated I phone application to link to our hydrophone and our project - through a collaboration between The Whalesong Project and Gladworks. Thank you Gladworks!!! To buy this application for $4.99 go to the Itunes store, and search the Applications store for "the Whalesong project". Hook it up to your stereo system in your car and cruise to live whalesongs, or listen at night to help you sleep (warning: may induce whale dreaming).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Whalesong Benefit Update

Thank you to everyone who attended our benefit concert, organized by David Rothenberg. We raised $525, which was a huge help during these crazy financial times. We are all volunteer, and run on an annual budget of about $15,000. We work hard to make this project work, and we appreciate your support. Thanks to all of the musicians who participated, and to Bruce and Satya at Mandala Ethnica Arts, Phillip Gordon...everyone who participated.

We are really big on the whale songs, but we also listen to the other voices in the orchestra. Some voices are hard to hear, some are disappearing. We want to take care of the oceans, and to inspire others to do the same. Thank you for contributing, for adding your voice, for participating, for sharing our website with others...spreading the word. Pictured above are, from the left, Pamela Kaʻimiloa Polland, me, Laurie and Jake Rohrer, opening for David.

Hereʻs me and David. We played with the whales. David thinks the whales were saved from extinction largely by the fascination created by the introduction of their songs into our world with the album created by researcher Roger Payne. The album sold over 2 million!

Hereʻs Pamela Polland, me, Laurie Rohrer, Trisha Cabral. More pictures later. Thanks again, everyone!!!

Donʻt forget we are at the Ritz Carlton this weekend for Celebration of the Arts. There are a lot of childrenʻs activities, and we have some artists, musicians and story tellers participating with us this year. Come see us there!!!

Aloha, Dan

Monday, April 6, 2009

Interwoven Destinies

Iʻm always thinking about what it is we are doing at The Whalesong Project. Especially when I find myself, and I always do, in the middle of some new unexpected experience each whale season. Here I am out at sea with my upright bass surrounded by cameras from France, Germany and New Zealand. What was I doing there? (I asked myself). Well, I was trying to catch up in the office last week - to keep my small company alive - but the enthusiasm of this international group, including musician/philosopher/author David Rothenberg, literally swept me out to sea. David again reminded us that it was the songs of the whales, "discovered" and published in the 1960ʻs, that largely created the awareness to support protecting the whales - or many species would arguably be extinct now.

The French Crew was following the adventures of Pierre Lavange, founder of the Shelltone Whale Project. Pierre is interested in saving the whales by sharing their songs, and he has also created an instrument to allow people to attempt to communicate with them.....a very interesting project. More on this later.

I seem to want to give exposure to our project, and to inspire people to care about the oceans....just about anyone who will listen. And part of our project seems to be recognizing the interwoven destinies of all of us who live on this beautiful planet. That interwovenness becomes apparent each whale season, as people who do care show up - and we interact in sometimes unpredictable ways. But the beauty is in the sharing, and the time we get to spend together doing whatever it is we are doing at the time....recognizing that we all depend on each other to create a good future for our children and grand children.

We at The Whalesong Project obviously seem to care about giving a voice to the natural world. We seem to be, strangely, the Sound Crew for the largest voice on the planet....and one that is rarely heard above the noise of modern civilization.

We are concerned about the future of the ocean, and want to inspire others to care. You could say that we have a commitment to care relentlessly. My dear friend and Kumu Hula, "Auntie" Gordean Leilehua Lee Baily (pictured above) composed a beautiful ʻoli and hula that describes a view of the world I like. She performed it with her hālau at the More Fishes Hawaiʻi Conference that we participated in on Saturday. A short version of "Aloha i ka ʻāina":

Aloha i ka ʻāina no nā kau a kau
(Love the ʻāina for all time -the ʻāina includes the land, water, ocean, creatures, people)
Mālama i ka ʻāina me ka manaʻo nō nā keiki
(Care for the 'āina thinking of the children)
Kiahi i ka ʻāina nō nā kau a kau
(Protect the ʻāina - be guardians - for all time)

The Ahapuaʻa System of ancient Hawaiʻi recognized the connection between the heavens and the highest mountain and the deep ocean. What we do above is reflected in what is seen below. A healthy ecosystem on land creates healthy reefs and healthy fish, and the necessities of a healthy life exist. What happens in France, New Zealand, Germany, and other far off places affects the health of the reefs and ecosystems here in the remote Pacific, in these modern times. Our interwoven destinies are converging, and we are working together to make a better world I think.

Wow, the sun is up. What am I doing? I better get to work.

With aloha, Dan

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Peak Activity Period for Whalesong Project

So much is happening lately that it is hard to get the time to write any of it down. We are at the More Fishes Hawaiʻi conference today at Maui Community College. Next weekend we are at Celebration of the Arts at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. The following weekend we will be at Earth Day Baldwin Beach. Please come see us and talk story about how to create a healthy future for our oceans on this water planet live on.Last week we had a great benefit concert with David Rothenberg, and I even got to go to sea with David and play some music with the whales - while being filmed by a French film crew for a documentary on whales.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to our project recently!!! We raised over $1,000 in the past week, that will help us keep the buoy going through this season. We are very grateful for this! You are part of the team. Stay in touch, give us feedback, help us refine our direction, take personal initiative and let us know how we can help!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Buoy Service mission complete

Radha Divine and David Rothenberg assisted in a buoy repair mission today!

The buoy is working great again after a trip out there by kayak. A leak in the portal that brings the hydrophone cable into the electronics compartment caused some corrosion of connectors. Repairs were completed successfully and Hokumoanalani is doing a great job. Big thanks to David and Radha for their vital help in making the repairs.

The benefit concert was great. We raised $525!!! Thanks to all of you who attended! Thank you Rosalie Shaw in Sonoma County for your generous donation!!! We will spend it wisely to keep this system going!

Aloha, Dan

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the move

This picture was taken by me yesterday, in one of my precious few trips to the ocean this year. This formation of whales is referred to by researchers as a "Surface Activity Group." It is generally associated with mating activity in the minds of researchers and the general public....there is usually a female being pursued by a group of males. But researchers also acknowledge that there is a lot yet to learn about these mysterious creatures of the deep. No one, it is believed by researchers, has observed actual mating, but amorous activity has been observed and documented.

The whale numbers are thinning here, but the ones who are here are doing plenty of vocalizing. We had some trouble with the system this morning, but we have it working again thanks to our dedicated team. The project attracts a group of very bright and good hearted people, who I am grateful to call my friends.

Our team is all volunteer and our operating expenses are still outweighing our income. Please come to our benefit concert Friday night 8 pm Mandala Ethnic Arts Paʻia. David Rothenberg will be there with some other talented musicians and a gentleman from France who has designed an instrument for communicating with whales. Please come and support our project.

With appreciation and aloha,


Monday, March 23, 2009

All about Whales and their songs

If you are interested in the whale songs and the history of manʻs discovery of their songs, musical collaborations between people and whales, great songwriters who have written songs about the whales (including Pete Seeger), indigenous peopleʻs relationship to the whales, listen to this ABC radio program with David Rothenberg. It took 8 months to produce and is an extraordinary program. David will be with us at a concert he is organizing to benefit our project this Friday at Mandala Ethnic Arts Paʻia 8 pm.

Hawaiian Language Whalesong Website

Kanikoholā means the sound, "kani," of the humpback whale, "koholā."  I think Koholā sounds better than "humpback."  I actually prefer the Hawaiian language to any of the other languages I speak or play with.  It expresses things differently than other languages I am familiar with, and it has a beautiful sound to it.  And there is wisdom hidden in the language and the way it is articulated.  The language was almost lost.  It was illegal to speak Hawaiian in the schools here until 1986.  Thanks to Punana Leo o Maui and other organizations, the language is returning.  I am grateful to my teachers, and I want to contribute keeping the language of Hawaiʻiʻs people alive.  Kanaka maoli and other interested parties can now hear the songs of the Koholā at our new website http://www.kanikohola.com.  Please enjoy.  E kalamai i aʻu, I apologize in advance, for any errors in my Hawaiian.  Iʻm open to feedback, contributions, ideas, direction on this cultural component of our project, which will be growing.

malama i ke kai, e ola kākou

by taking care of the oceans we bring health to us all

Aloha,  Dan

Whales are very active here and so are the people

This is Bonnie Crystal, who customized the radio transmitters and receivers we have been using for these past nine seasons, in her Hong Kong laboratory.  Bonnie just sent us two sets of back up systems for the buoy!!!  Thanks again for coming through for the project Bonnie!!!

The whales are quite active as we pass the middle of the season.  Numbers are down a little but the songs continue and they are changing as the season progresses.  Katie Velasquez, naturalist aboard the Prince Kuhio out of Maʻalaea, snapped this photo for us on Friday.  The whale breached thirty feet from the boat.  Katie is an ocean researcher and activist and keeps us informed on important issues.
I was invited to this "Whalesong birthday party" last night.  Raphiell Nolin (wearing the lei) invited his friends to come to his party and bring a donation for The Whalesong Project in lieu of gifts.  His enthusiasm and support for our project made me feel really appreciated.  We made music with the live whale songs and there are some really good musicians in this group.  We had a really great time.  Thank you, Raphiell, for your support!  Happy Birthday!!!

People are working to put another benefit for our project this Friday evening at Mandala Ethnic Arts in Paʻia, organized by our friend David Rothenberg.  More to follow.   Thanks to everyone who is pitching in to help keep the project going!!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Important events on Maui

Whalesong Project friend and supporter Varuna

Iʻd like to let our Maui people know about three important events coming up. One is a fundraiser for a Whalesong friend and contributor who is dealing with cancer. Many of you know Varuna Dargan, who has connected us deeper with the meaning and importance of the whales and their songs in Native American and other indigenous cultures. This event will be at The Studio Maui in Haʻiku on March 29, and will include live music and dance. There will be some really great talent there and a lot of good energy. It will be a beautiful heartfelt gathering! Follow this link for information about the event, or this link to stay in touch with Varuna and contribute to Varunaʻs care online.

Another is the annual Hoʻomau festival this Saturday, March 21. Follow this link for details. It is a wonderful day-long event that features incredible local musicians, hula, good food, great silent auction. This is one of my favorite annual events on Maui and it raises money for Punanaleo o Maui, a Hawaiian language immersion preschool. It was illegal to speak Hawaiian in Hawaiʻiʻs schools until 1986, believe it or not! The language was almost lost to the people of Hawaiʻi, along with the land and the sovereignty that existed before the illegal overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani. Thanks to Punanaleo o Maui for keeping the language and culture alive! We at The Whalesong Project strive to be good citizens here in Hawaiʻi. The culture here is, we believe, unique and beautiful and imortant to Hawaiʻi and the world. I hope to see you there.

The third event is our 2nd annual fundraiser, put together again this year by author and musician David Rothenberg, author of "Why Birds Sing" and "The Thousand Mile Song - Whale Music in a Sea of Sound." David has fascinating stories and music to share. It will be at Mandala Ethnic Arts in Paʻia on March 27. Details to follow. I hope to see you there as well.



The buoy - Hōkūmoanalani

Hereʻs our buoy back at the start of the season. We were working long hours and honestly impatient to get her in the ocean. Nari seems to be saying, "so when do we get to listen to the whales?" Last night I hooked my Iphone to a good speaker system and listened with Nariʻs mother at a small gathering. We were all amazed at the songs we are now able to hear. Thanks for your help, Nari!
This is Whalesong Project volunteer/partner Robert Bonafacio with the dish antenna that is receiving the live whalesongs from the buoy. Itʻs a complex system that seems to need a lot of attention. We enjoy doing it, especially when we hear the many expressions of appreciation from all around the world.
A lot of people wantt to know where the buoy is. Hereʻs Robert again, pointing to the dot that is Hōkūmoanalani, our floating solar-powered technology platform....also a beautiful piece of floating art out there. She is performing magnificently this season. We are hoping to raise money to point a live webcam with a zoom lens at her so you can enjoy the whales from wherever you are out there in the world. All of our resources are keeping the system working right now, so itʻs honestly hard to move forward on the new projects.

We are very grateful that there will be a benefit concert with David Rothenberg, Keaolani, Alohia and other guest musicians at Mandala Ethnic Arts in Paʻia on March 27. I think 8 pm. I hope you will join us and have some fun and learn about the whales together while we raise money to keep the system working. Thanks to David and his team putting this together for us. More to come on this soon.

Aloha, Dan

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The system is working!

This young listener was very excited about hearing the live whalesongs at our display in Eco Alley on Whale Day in Kihei this year. I am now very excited because after a couple of days of problems, we have the system working again.

You can see the excitement on our faces in this picture taken on the day we launched Hōkūmoanalani this season. After all of that work, and with the relatively short season in which we get to share the whale songs with the world, I have a lot of incentive to keep it working.

It took a team today, and it took most of the day and the evening, in the rain, but now it is working.

There were multiple causes to the failure, all outside of our control. The good news is that we are back online and that the whales are singing a lot. I perceive some occasional minor radio interference to our audio signal, probably from a new wireless modem we are using. I will try to straighten that out tomorrow.

Everything is working well - but the credit cards are maxed. We realize we arenʻt the only organization facing this problem right now. We count our blessings that we are able to keep our project alive given the current world financial situation.

We are getting tremendous support from volunteers....people give generously of their time and personal resources to the project....but money is a real problem for us right now. (See March 16 morning blog entry)

Most of our donations come in the form of $10 to $50 annual donations from friends who send money every year. We are forever grateful for this support. The tough financial times have tremendously reduced our income. We could really use some benefactors....people who want to leave a legacy for their grandchildren to be proud of. Well, we all want that....and some large donations would help with that.

Thanks for listening,

Aloha, Dan

Whalesong Benefit and Events

Our friend David Rothenberg, author of "The Thousand Mile Song - Whale Music in a Sea of Sound" and "Why Birds Sing," is returning to Maui this month to do some filming on a new project. He is bringing friends, and wants to do another benefit for The Whalesong Project. Bruce and Satya, owners of Mandala Ethnic Arts in Paʻia, have kindly donated their space for the benefit. David is an eclectic musician and reasearcher who has traveled the world learning about the songs of the whales and the birds. He has stories to tell and music to share. The benefit will be the evening of March 27. Expect surprise musical guests and an entertaining evening....and a live "jam session" with the whales! More details to follow.

The Whalesong Project has also been asked to share our work and the live whale songs again this year at Celebration of the Arts at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. This is a beautiful event. We are humbled and honored to be invited for eight seasons now. Please join us there.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Buoy and Project Status Report

We are perpetually grateful to Willy (The Whale) Bennett for his ongoing participation in The Whalesong Project for many years. Willy and his trusty boat have been integral to the success of the project - launching, retrieving, repairing, maintaining the buoy. Recently, Willy has been swimming out to the buoy and performing routine maintenance. I called him yesterday to let him know that something wasn't working properly. He promptly swam out there and sent back a full report with pictures to document what he saw. I'll share these:
Things look good on the topside of the buoy. It is in "fine shape physically."
They hydrophone "looks good." Willy removed a barnacle from it carefully and observed no damage.
The dish receiving antenna (small green dot center screen on shore above the beach) is unobscured and pointing in the right direction.
The seas have calmed down a bit but are still choppy. That's Haleakalā, the "House of the Sun" in the background. Speaking of the sun, Willy also teaches on the subject of solar energy at our community college here on Maui. Thank you again Willy for all the good things you do here on Maui, and for being so dedicated to the success of our project. Thatʻs quite a swim out there.

The problem with the buoy appears to be internal. In the oceanic environment things break down and need to be repaired and maintained almost constantly. We are mounting a rescue mission for the buoy with Willyʻs help, and hope to have it working properly again very soon. The songs you are listening to now on our website are recorded.

Stay tuned.



Whalesong needs suppport to finish the Season

These international students were fascinated by the live whale songs we shared at Whale Day this year. We have been heartened to connect at Whale Day, Whalequest, Celebration of the Arts, Earth Day Maui, and other events, with people from all over the world who use our site in their schools, homes, and special events to share these beautiful and mysterious songs with their children, family and friends, students, co-workers, politicians, community leaders.

We seek, in our sharing of these songs, to inspire people to care about the oceans and the environment. It is important that we understand also that the ocean is an acoustic environment and that some human acoustic activities are dangerous to the whales, dolphins and other marine life. And there are also other serious issues going on right now related to ocean health. How to do something positive that is inspiring and intelligent and effective becomes our important task.

Our buoy needs repair at this moment and I am looking for a boat to get out there and fix her. I am playing a tape we recorded earlier until repairs are made. We have had a good season so far, with a long run of reliable performance by our system, which received a lot of tender loving care before going out into the ocean.

My goal at the beginning of this season was to get a zodiac for needed repairs, as making repairs by kayak is very difficult, and I injured my back doing that before Earth Day last year. A standard runabout is good for launching and bringing the buoy in, but does not work so well for repairs because of the height difference relative to the electronics compartment on the buoy, and the combined motions of the two create a sometimes difficult dynamic. A boat of the type we need costs about $5,000 used. This type of boat can tie up to the buoy at the proper height without damaging it, and thus facilitate ease of maintenance.

I also planned to put up a $2,000 webcam this season so you can see the buoy and the ocean around it, maybe some whales and dolphins. And we planned to introduce a new project of ours that we hope will help move us towards a world above water that better supports life in the ocean. We are calling the project Haleakala Institute. It is now functioning as a "think tank" on issues of importance to supporting a healthy environment. We plan on a resource center and demonstration project. We need about $5,000 to move it to the next step.

Our donations to support The Whalesong Project have declined dramatically this season. We are a volunteer organization, and we have been operating on about $15,000 per year. I think we have received less than $800 in donations over the past 9 months. With the economy the way it is we are all challenged, and I am no exception. I may not be able to complete the season using my credit cards to keep this all going. So we need $15,000 to pay off our debt and get ourselves through this season and into next with the live webcast. And we need $12,000 more to move our other initiatives forward.

We are doing everything we can to keep our work going because we think it is important. What we could really use right now is a donation or donations that would allow us to really go forward with our work.......beyond maintaining this system that allows us to connect with the ocean and whale world, and move further into education and demonstration of sustainable ways to live and protect the oceans and whales at the same time....The Haleakala Institute.

We have a team that loves the oceans and wants to do good things, and has the intelligence and energy and good will to do it. If you know anyone who can help support the project financially please connect us!

Thank you,


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Listen to Live Whalesongs from your Iphone

I am a happy guy, because I can now check on the buoy and hear the whales anywhere from my Iphone.  If youʻd like to do this, download StreamitAll from the Itunes store for only $3.99.

When you synchronize your phone, StreamitAll will be on your phoneʻs "desktop."  Click on it and answer three questions and you are ready to go.  Click on + to add a station.  Name the station Whalesong Project or whatever you like.  Then add this where it asks for the URL:  http://www.live365.com/play/whalesongmaui


Aloha, Dan

Of Whale and Human Musicians and Our Project

We are about half way through whale season here.  My Hawaiian friends tell me the whales arrive at the beginning of Makahiki Season, a season of peace, when the Sandalwood trees bloom and the Pleides come up over the horizon.  There are new songs this year and it is always amazing to me to hear the song change as the season progresses.
My dear friends and brothers George Kahumoku Jr. and Ed Bigelow are pictured here with me making some music for friends one beautiful day.  Ed and George are both founding board members of our project.  Ed, with the ukulele, is President of our Board of Directors.  Ed has some health issues he is dealing with right now and he is in our prayers.  George is playing guitar and Iʻm playing bass.  We love to play music together and Iʻm looking forward to more.  Come home soon, Ed.
Here we are at Whale Day in Kihei, and thousands of people came by our display to hear the live whale songs.  These international students were seemingly transfixed by the beauty and mystery of this yearʻs songs.
George was there with us and played on the main stage to a huge audience.  George is known for his beautiful Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar music and his melodic voice.  He is also known for playing music with the whales, and he played live with the whales on Whale Day to an appreciative audience.  He also let me hold one of his three Grammy Awards, which he brought to share at our display.  Humans and Whales love to sing, and Iʻm grateful that we do.  It brings beauty and joy to life.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Whale Day in Kihei is tomorrow

We will be in Kihei for Whale Day tomorrow, in Eco Alley bringing the live whalesongs to the event.  George Kahumoku, a Whalesong Project Director and three time Grammy winner, will be playing on the main stage around 11 a.m.  I think George may jam with the whales again this year in real time.  You can see our buoy from the stage.

I was out on a whale watch boat recently with friends and this whale reached out to us and made contact with many on board.  He would look us in the eye, roll over, and then roll over on his back and show his white belly,  then look at us again,  go under the boat and do the same for people on the other side.  It was a beautiful experience.

I hope to see many of you at Whale Day.  Thank you, PWF, for inviting us!  Aloha!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Whale Quest!!! A Fabulous Event!!!

Hereʻs Samuel ("Samuwhale") at our display at Whale Quest Kapalua.  Thanks Sam!!!
These two professors of music from Washington State University,  David and Heidi Jarvis, are here to study the whale song.  I look forward to reading the book.
Rachel (in front) is fascinated by the live whale songs.  She is a student at Punahou School, the same school our new President attended when he grew up here in Hawaiʻi.
I stopped by to see my friend George Kahumoku while on this side of the island.  Here is George with his students at Lahainaluna High School.  One of his students created this whale mural on the side of his class room.  George is a Whalesong Project Director, and now a three time Grammy Award winner for his music.  George and I will be playing with Pamela Polland and Special Guests at a benefit for the Maui Wildlife Sanctuary, known as the "Booboo Zoo" at the Tropical Plantation at 7 PM this evening.

Aloha to everyone out there listening! 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Whalequest at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua

Itʻs Whalequest time here in Kapalua and Iʻve just heard fascinating presentations by Flip Nicklin, my favorite whale photographer, and Dr. Jim Darling, one of my favorite whale researchers.  The event goes on all weekend, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in these fascinating whales.  Many researchers will be presenting, and there is always something new to learn each year.  We are here Saturday and Sunday bringing live whalesongs to the event.  Please drop by and visit our exhibit just to the left at the entrance to the main exhibit room.  Many thanks to Whalequest and the Ritz Carlton Kapalua for inviting us back this year.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Whales "Celebrate Obamaʻs Inauguration"

My friend Pamela Polland just sent me this link to an interesting YouTube Video with this description of what is happening with an active group of whales.

"Just minutes before a traditional Hawaiian blessing to honor Barak
Obama's Inauguration, a pod of joyful whales began gathering by the
temple where the event was taking place. People at the gathering who
have lived on the Big Island their whole lives, had never seen
anything like what took place on this special day. This happy pod of
whales began with 3 white belly breaches, followed by spyhopping,
slapping their fins and tails and a new behavior we have never seen
before that we nicknamed the full body slap... for a full 30 minutes!
The voice you will hear in the background is Haleaka Iolani Pule
Dooley, known locally as "Aunty Aka" and you can hear the excitement
in her voice as the whales celebrate wildly in front of her and those
gathering for the special blessing"

I have no comment as to whether the whales were indeed "celebrating" Obamaʻs inauguration, but if they were, I share their excitement.


Aloha, Dan

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Beautiful Whalesongs Every Day, Whales Everywhere, Everything is Working

I'm happy to report that everything is working very well now!!! It's been a lot of work, but we are where we want to be. The whales are singing new songs, new variations of old songs, and vocalizing things that scientists and whale observers can only guess about the meaning of. I find the late night peaceful singing to be extremely enjoyable.

On another "note"- I've heard chatter recently about the importance of the whales to the local economy. In these challenging financial times many people have jobs that are related to people traveling here just to spend time with the whales.

Speaking of challenging financial times, The Whalesong Project has lots of volunteer help, but very little money is coming in this season. Our largest contributor lost money in the stock market crash, and couldn't send money this year. This means we volunteers are also paying for the costs of operating this complex system. If you want to support our project, or you know someone who might want to support us, please let us know or visit our How You Can Help Page.

And please enjoy the ocean songs.

Aloha, Dan

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Whale Songs are live again!!!! Hooray!!!

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this whalesong webcasting season possible. The system is working again. There is some static tonight that I think I can clear up tomorrow. Iʻve been working nights on it so I can keep my day job going to pay the bills. I got as far as I could in the dark and now the dish antenna for the receiver is duct taped to a fence post. It should sound better once I can get on the roof in some daylight. Thanks everyone for your patience. To listen live go to www.whalesong.net, or try this link. Or paste this link -


into your I Tunes player under Advanced Settings, Open Stream.

More great pictures of the launch by Anna Kim are posted on her website.

Thanks for listening. Aloha kākou!