Friday, June 18, 2010

More on Sperm Whales in the Gulf

Evidently the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission warned of risks associated with oil exploration in the Gulf in the early 1990ʻs. According to this article, these warnings were ignored by federal regulators and BP. The author, Heather Heenehan, is a masterʻs degree student in environmental management at Duke University, and is working on a summer fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Thank you for this excellent article, Heather.

Messing with Mother Nature

CNN quotes one of the workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig....."This well did not want to be just seemed like we were messing with Mother Nature." Read the full article.

How to produce energy and live in harmony with Nature is a challenge, but donʻt we love challenges? If we look at the long term costs, and the costs of unintended consequences, of our energy choices, I think we will find that there are better choices we can be making. We are inventive people. If we make decisions based on facts about what is really serving the people and the planet, I believe we will make better decisions. Can this happen in Washington D.C.? Miracles can happen.

In the meanwhile the oil gushes and we continue to drive our cars. Iʻm thinking about what I can do to make a difference this year in my lifestyle and energy choices, and my contribution. We have officially begun our Haleakalā Institute project. More information and a website will be coming out soon. We have applied for a grant. The project will be educational in nature and will be Maui-based. If we get the grant we will be working with a lot of children on environmental remediation and sustainable energy projects. Use of media in communications will be involved, and all of it will be based on the Hawaiian way of learning, "Ma ka hana ka ʻike" - to learn by doing. More soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gulf oil spill and Whales

There has been a lot of speculation about the impact of the the oil spill on whales and dolphins. This story says NOAA is investigating the death of a Sperm Whale near the accident. In Hawaiian, the Sperm Whale is called Palaoa. The Palaoa are considered a form of Kanaloa, the God of the Ocean. They were hunted to near extinction, and are still an endangered species. Lets hope the problems in the gulf are solved soon, and that some wisdom is developed that will help turn the tide in favor of healthy oceans.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

World Oceans Day - Ocean of Life

The theme of Ocean Day this year is "Ocean of Life." Never has the importance of protecting the oceans seemed more important than this very day. Oil streams into the Gulf of Mexico, toxic plastic gyres are growing, ice caps are melting, the ban on commercial whaling may be lifted with support from Washington D.C.

Hereʻs hoping we will wake up and focus more diligently, as a world community, on the importance of the oceans to All Life on this planet. If you want to do something positive today for the oceans, please consider a donation to The Whalesong Project - so we can continue our work, with our all-volunteer team. Your money goes a long way with us, and we are operating on a very thin shoe string these days. Thanks to each of you out there who have contributed with your time, energy, money! With support we expand our activities, without support we have to pull back, and we donʻt want to do that in this challenging time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Whalesong Project Board Member George Kahumoku honored

I am pleased to report that Whalesong Project Founding Board Member George Kahumoku was honored with the "Aloha Is" Award for community service at the annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards ceremony in Honolulu. He was recognized "for his support of individuals and entities ranging from dropout students and Maui Community Correctional Center inmates cultivating taro in Waiehu to work with Maui Nui Botanical Gardens and the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge." Read the full article.

Those of us who know George know that he never stops. He is an enduring presence in the world, not just on Maui. He has nurtured young Hawaiian students to become Grammy Awards winners, worked with "at risk" youth for decades, volunteered for countless fund raisers. Sometimes you could fill a page with his activities in just one day. Congratulations George! You deserve it.

At the same ceremony Mauiʻs Hula Honeys won the best Hawaiian Jazz Album of the Year. Jonathan Drechsler, the bass player, volunteers for Whalesong Project! Congratulations Jonathan - and Ginger and Robin.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Mystery of Pu'u Koholā

As we approach the 200th anniversary of the unification of the Hawaiian Islands, much attention is focused on Pu'u Koholā. It was here that Kamehameha built this large heiau before his unification quest. Some call it the "hill of the whale" and some say it resembles a whale. Some have suggested that perhaps the Koholā, the Hawaiian Humpback Whale, was an ʻaumakua of King Kamehameha. Others give a different explanation for the name. Koholā can also mean "chosen day," and there was a belief that the prophesies around Kamehameha and the unification of the islands required consecration of this heiau on a particular day. Hawaiian language and mythology is is filled with kaona, hidden meaning, metaphor. It is possible the name means both. Another puzzling fact: One of Kamehamehaʻs names is Paiʻea. Those of you who watched the movie Whale Rider may recall that the Maori prophet who rode the whale was Paikea, which is how one would say Paiʻea in Maori. Paikea was said to have come from Hawaiki, Hawaiʻi. We may never know the full mystery of this possible connection between Kamehameha The Great and the whales.

How to lessen sonar impact on whales

This article in the Honolulu Weekly includes a conversation with Robin Baird, who has done whale research in Hawaiian waters for eleven years. Robin helps explain the "lay of the land" in Hawaiian waters relevant to cetaceans and sonar, and outlines some steps the Navy could take to reduce impacts in their use of sonar. Robin also explains why we may not see whales who die or are injured by sonar use, making data collection on injuries more complicated than it already is.

My personal opinion is that there has not been much emphasis on data collection. My observation is that most whales who strand themselves in Hawai'i are not evaluated for acoustic trauma. Without data, without the scientific method applied, we are in the dark.

I am doing necessary post-whale season travel. I'm happy to report we were able to produce another season of bringing the live whale songs to the world, and to participate at a number of events, and to move our sustainability project, Haleakala Institute, forward. I'm sorry to report that we have depleted our financial resources. Our all-volunteer team greatly appreciates the heartfelt financial contributions that help keep our website, webcast, essential services alive. Thank you!