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  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:


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.