Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Tsunami Adventure

We had a big adventure today with our buoy, Holumoanalani.

We planned a service call this morning, but woke up to sirens and phone calls about the approaching tsunami. We watched the tsunami hit Hawai'i on television, and when I took a break to check email I saw a message from a woman named Jackie in Kihei who said the buoy was drifting north. Paulo Mendes and I rushed over there hoping to retrieve her before she was damaged or lost. The emergency had just been lifted, but there was no one and no boats in the water in South Maui. The beaches and parks were closed. Strong currents and unusual shifts in sea levels were still occurring. Shelly Stephens joined us, along with Paulo's friend, Nikos Los Banos, with his amazing Dog, Mana. Mana is well known on Maui for his love of surfing with Nikos.

On a kayak and two stand-up paddle boards, we followed Shelly to the buoy. We then towed the buoy back to a spot near her usual mooring. A tricky situation turned humorous when Mana, a strong swimmer, was given a rope to help tow the buoy.

We were able to create a temporary mooring until we can go back with GPS to restore the original mooring early this week.

I could not bear the thought of losing the buoy after so many volunteers, including myself, have put in so much time and money to bringing the live whalesongs to you and the world. Big thanks to all!!!

Tsunami Update

I'm sorry to report that some radio interference has moved into our buoy arena. The tsunami is hitting Hawai'i as I write. There is no way to get to the hydrophone and base station right now due to road closures and general evacuation of the coastal areas. We are now getting reports of erratic whale behavior outside of Kahului Harbor. A dramatic drop in the water level at Kahului Harbor is being reported.


The whales are singing their seemingly normal songs for this season approximately 15 minutes before the predicted tsunami. I am recording now, out of curiosity. What does a tsunami sound like? I hope I don't hear the sound of our precious buoy washing up on shore. So many volunteers have had a hand in putting her in the ocean and keeping her working. We had a scheduled maintenance run on the calendar this morning. This would have involved two people on surfboard and kayak with tools at the buoy site. We are trying to address some intermittent noise, and the fact that our hydrophone gain is set a little high. This makes the hydrophone (basically an underwater microphone) very "hot." It's great for listening to the whales at medium and far distance. But when we get a singer close by, as we did last night (a very energetic singer) it is causing some distortion. We can't do anything until this tsunami passes, which could happen "any minute" according to the local news channel. More later.

Buoy Launch, Whale Day, Tsunami Alert

Whale Day is always a big deal for us. We participated for our ninth year last Saturday and we always are pleased to see the smiles on the faces of people when they hear the live whalesongs. Mahalo to the Pacific Whale Foundation for inviting us again this year.

This is Eva, Kevin, Paulo and Trisha placing the buoy in the ocean last Friday, with new solar panels, transmitter, hydrophone. We raised $1,500 at our benefit fundraiser, which enable us to get her in the water. We have an amazing group of volunteers this year keeping the project going forward. We are trying to keep our heads above water financially until our next fund raising event with David Rothenberg on March 19. Stay tuned for details.

The buoy has been performing beautifully. Last night some noise developed in the system which we planned to address at the buoy site this morning. The Tsunami Alert has forced us to reschedule this service call.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Leiʻohu Ryder with Maydene Iao at our fundraiser Friday night. Big thanks to them and cousin Keʻaliʻi, who danced the hula, and to Ed Ellsworth who took these photos on his iPhone. For a beautiful collage of photos of the evening that show more participants and some music go to Peter Rosenʻs Site. Thank you, Peter. Oh yes, thatʻs Jonathan Dreshler on bass.

Hereʻs George, our Whalesong Project Board Member, and 4 X Grammy winner! Congratulations George!

I want to thank everyone who came and helped, and donated money and time for this event. We plan another benefit on March 19 with David Rothenberg and Mark Takaha and special guests. Stay tuned. We raised about $1,700 after expenses on Friday, and we hope that will be enough to get the buoy in the ocean and cover the various associated costs of the webcast through February.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Update on Buoy and on Benefit Concert Feb 5 2010

We are very happy to announce that Whalesong Project Board Member George Kahumoku Jr. just won his 4th Grammy Award in the Hawaiian Music category! George emailed me from Los Angeles from his iPhone with the great news last night. We are in the middle of creating an event for this Friday evening with George at Makawao Union Church on Baldwin Avenue near Rainbow Park, 7 pm through 11 PM. First two hours will feature George and other Hawaiian musicians, with hula, and with a little talk-story about the Oceans and Whales....and really anything George wants to talk about. Heʻs a true Hawaiian Renaisance Man, and it is always a great pleasure to hear him play and hear what he has to say. The second part of the evening will explore the musical and mystical realms of the Whale and Ocean world, and human interaction, with Sam David, WhaleTrance, and Eva Gueke, WhaleDance. My band, Keaolani, will open the show. There will be surprise guests and we expect it to be a very enjoyable evening. The acoustics and atmosphere are very good at this venue. Suggested donation $20, Seniors $10, Keiki free.

Money raised will go to getting our buoy, Hōkūmoanalani, back in the ocean for the season. We are getting a later start than we would like to be getting, but itʻs been a challenging couple of seasons in many ways. Weʻve lost some key people to relocation and the economy, and illness. But we are still standing, and hope to become a stronger organization as the challenges facing the worldʻs oceans increase. Your donations through the Paypal button, by mail, or by attendance at our fundraiser will help with that. We remain an all-volunteer organization. There are no salaries, and no compensation paid, to officers, board members, or our team of dedicated volunteers. Your contributions pay for hardware, software, webcasting and webhosting fees, costs associated with participating in the many events we show up at to promote Ocean health and awareness. Stay tuned for details.