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

1 comment:

Tom said...

I know it's popular to badmouth NOAA but such comments are unwarranted. It takes a long time for all the lab work to be done and the data evaluated. You are the one jumping to conclusions about what the cause is, insinuating it has something to do with sonar when you simply don't know. The only effective way to make the case against the sonar is to be able to prove it conclusively, not just knee-jerk blame strandings on sonar when there are many reasons for strandings. You lose credibility for the cause when you do that.

The scientists and volunteers, yes many volunteers, who work on strandings care deeply about finding the causes of the strandings and being able to prove a cause if there is one, especially if it has to do with human activity.

To insinuate otherwise is to insult good people who care just as much as you do about these magnificent creatures.

You folks are better than this.