Saturday, March 27, 2010

Challenging Times

I thought I would share this beautiful sunset shot, taken with my iphone off of Olowalu last weekend. There are still a lot of whales here, but their numbers will drop dramatically over the next few weeks as they head north to Alaskan waters. They are becoming increasingly interested in people this year. We are hearing many reports of whales seeking human contact, wanting to interact.

On to the challenging news. An AP news story this week says numerous scientific studies predict that coral reefs are heading for extinction worldwide. The scientific community is also acknowledging what the ancient Hawaiians knew for centuries - without healthy reefs you cannot have healthy fish and healthy people. They are a foundation for life in the ocean world. The Hawaiians had a system called the ʻahupuaʻa. Land divisions were pie shaped, and extended from the top of the mountain to the sea. They knew that everything from the top of the mountain to the deep ocean was connected and that healthy reefs were dependent on healthy land practices. If the world could get this concept, maybe the coral would have a chance.

This Curvier Beaked Whale washed up and died in Hana Maui on Monday. We still donʻt know if there is a relationship between these rare whale deaths and sonar use by the military in Hawaiian waters, and Iʻm not hopeful at this point that we will ever know. We finally had one whale tested for acoustic trauma last year, but now there is no mention of it being part of the necropsy process. Ten years of talking with NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Senator Inouye, other politicians, the National Marine Sanctuary, have only brought me frustration. This beautiful creature was hauled away by a team of excited scientists who want to learn about it, but probably will never tell us if acoustic trauma was a factor in its death.

In memory of this whale, I post a video of David Rothenberg performing Pete Seegerʻs "The Worlds Last Whale" at our benefit concert on Maui, March 19. The rythmic tones accompanying David are the "vocalizations" of Fin Whales, remixed to work with the song. Thank you, David, Keaolani, Mark Takaha, and all of the volunteers who contributed to this fundraiser, and to Paulo Mendes for creating the video.

A different kind of reception was given to a whale who died off of Vietnam recently, where fisherman revere the whales and consider them sacred. Whales in Vietnam are referred to as "Ngai," the same term used to honor Kings, Emperors, and other esteemed leaders, according to an AP news story. Read more.

This kind of respect is traditionally extended to whales by the Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures. They are widely believed to be embodiments of the God of the Ocean, Kanaloa (Tanaroa in Maori Culture).

We at Whalesong Project keep saying we seek to inspire people to appreciate and respect the ocean and the life it contains. As we watch the ice caps melt we wonder if we are making any progress. We have new ideas we want to try, but we are challenged in our ability to carry on this task at this time. We have successfully carried on this project for ten seasons now, but we have been unable to make it sustainable financially. We that volunteer our time are getting worn out raising money to keep it all working as we simultaneously maintain the system, which takes about $15,000 per year to operate. Every penny donated has been gratefully and humbly accepted and put to use to keep the project going. But the money coming in falls far short of what we need to keep it going. We may be forced to shut down the project until we find a way to pay for it. I am very sad to report this. It is the last thing I want to do, but I may not have any choice. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. With aloha, Dan

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peak Season Report

Aloha everyone! Thanks to all of you who have contributed to this seasonʻs success. It feels a little overwhelming every year to bring all of this equipment and software online, and participate in the events that this season brings. But we now have our buoy secure at her original mooring. It took a few trips out there to manage the trasition, find the anchor, etc. The whales are singing some very interesting songs this year. David Rothenberg is here and preparing for the benefit concert this Friday. David always brings interesting stories, people, technology. We enjoy his presence here. We were mentioned in the Maui News this week. We are preparing for participating in Celebration of the Arts at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua April 2, 3, 4. Again, thank all of you who have helped fix or maintain the buoy, sent money, played music or danced at one of our fund raising events. More soon!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Whalesong Project Benefit Concert March 19 2010

Please join us on March 19, 7 PM, Makawao Union Church. David Rothenberg returns to share his music, stories, and to play live with whale songs from our buoy, and more. More information to follow. Thanks to all of you who have volunteered for the project, played music, provided a boat, paddled out on a surfboard during the tsunami, set the anchor, played music, sent money to keep our project alive.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shifting Tides - Whalesong Project needs Help

The buoy is moored temporarily in a new location. In the period between the tsunami and sunset we could not get her back to her permanent anchor. She drifts north in the morning and we get some noise as she leaves the area where our dish antenna can pick up her signal. Willy's boat trailer is broken, and we have not been able to secure another boat. We were hoping this season to have our own service boat and a webcam pointed at her, but the economic tides have created challenges for the Whalesong Project.

Our all-volunteer team is operating in the red right now. At the beginning, the project was funded entirely by me. We became a non-profit corporation and over a period of several years were able to raise the $15,000 per year we need to operate through donations. Last year donations plummeted and my personal credit cards became maxed out to keep the project alive.

We raised $1,500 recently through the kokua of numerous volunteers and musicians at our fund raising concert. With additional donations from Whalesong Germany, we got the buoy in the water.We have another benefit concert scheduled for March 19 (stay tuned).

We have survived the tsunami and kept our project alive in an economic tide that left many of the world's largest and most powerful corporations in bankruptcy. But we are straining our volunteers resources to do it. We know that there are thousands of you out there who love the project and many express support with annual donations. Most of our donations are in the $10 to $30 range, and they are heartfelt and deeply appreciated. I have a hard time asking for more, but I just wanted to put it out that we need support to keep the project alive.

I read in the news that various countries are competing for rights to the oil reserves under the Arctic ice...looking forward to when the ice caps are gone and the resources can be "exploited." It's this kind of thinking that we are working to overcome. Please help us.

The picture above was taken right after the tsunami, when we recovered Hokumoanalani as she drifted. Paulo Mendes, on the left, caught a ride back to shore in Cove Park after the rescue. He picked up his board and looked back to see the cove was empty. The tsunami was still reverberating through our archipelago.

Hope you are all well. Thank you for listening.