Thursday, September 30, 2010

Many, many thanks to The Moorings!

I just wanted to add....

And many, many thanks to all of you at Moorings for making this possible!
We cannot adequately express our appreciation for your support, nor can we adequately express how pleased we were with the 4600 catamaran. In addition to being our floating base of operations, it became (due to inclement weather) our sole observation and working platform for all our work---acoustic, photographic, and genetic---and it more than proved its worth. Sincere thanks to you all!

Dr. Michael Poole

More pictures from the field!

Ia orana, Hello everyone!

It's been some time since we had Internet connection in the field, but we have lots of great photos to share with you! Thanks your patience and we hope you enjoy.

Our research team member, Pamela Carzon, has taken some great photos showing three of the five species we have encountered. Her photos show bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, and humpback whales. We also encountered spinner dolphins (visually, acoustically, and with biopsies) and sperm whales (acoustically).

We hope you enjoy these latest photos and the descriptions regarding each.

Thanks again to Pamela for sending these initial images. We’ll send more tomorrow!!

BiopsieTursiopsToau: Taken at the island of Toau near a pass on the north shore, this photo shows the plastic biopsy dart rebounding off a bottlenose dolphin before the dart falls into the water. With a dip net we then recovered the dart and removed the small piece of skin that is inside the small metal tip. This photo also identifies the individual dolphin by the shape of its dorsal fin, which has some interesting cuts on the upper posterior edge.

Toau01: This photo show two of the bottlenose dolphins that we encountered on the north shore of the island of Toau. The dolphin on the right has a very easily identifiable dorsal fin.

Kauehi01: This picture shows the easily identifiable dorsal fin of a male pilot whale which was part of a school very close to the pass at the southwest coast of the island of Kauehi; we also obtained a biopsy from this individual.

Kauehi02: This picture shows this same pilot whale as it exhales at the surface.

Kauehi03: This is a male pilot whale at Kauehi.

Raraka01: This photo was taken at the island of Raraka. It 2 adult humpback whales that were resting very, very close to shore on the island’s southwest shore. We photographically identified and obtained biopsies from both whales. The water on the far upper side of the photo is the island’s lagoon. As you can see, at this spot there isn’t much land separating the ocean from the lagoon.

 Raraka02: This shows the tail of one of these two humpbacks. Breathtaking!

Raraka03: Another picture showing the tail of one of the humpbacks in the area.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ia orana!
This means "hello" or "I wish you a good day".

It’s not yet 0600h, but we’re up and working!

We'd like to introduce you to Team Biosphere.

As pictured here aboard our Moorings 4600 cat, our group includes Dr. Marc Oremus, Pamela Carzon, Dr. Michael Poole, Renee Albertson, Kim Portal and Captain Alain Portal!

Here's an update from the field on our activities beginning this leg of the research on September 15.

Over the past few days, we've experienced waether with 20-25 knot winds out of the east and a sizeable ocean swell, plus rain on and off. These conditions have made work in our 18’ research boat difficult. Your Moorings catamaran, however, is fantastic, and we can only sing its high praises. It is safe, stable, comfortable, and it provides more than enough space for all of our material and the five of us. We just need some better weather.

Thursday we went down to the southern tip of Fakarava, spent the night there, and just got back here to the northern end of the island yesterday evening.

While conducting surveys down the west coast we heard two humpback whales singing in the distance, and we also saw some spinner dolphins. Yesterday morning, there were some spinner dolphins by the south pass, and then in the evening when we arrived near the north pass we saw a couple of humpbacks.

Weather permitting, later this morning we will head east to Kauehi. If that doesn’t work, then we’ll turn around and go NW to Toau.

We've added some new pictures too! There's an aerial photo of part of a coral atoll, showing the encircling barrier reef and the motu (coral islets) on the reef; and the central lagoon.

More to come soon as we pick Internet connection back up again... Stayed Tuned!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Moorings, in conjunction with other supporting partners, proudly sponsors Expedition Biosphere Fakarava, a marine mammal research and preservation initiative in Fakarava, a region of French Polynesia that’s designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve.
Photo Credits: Dr. Michael Poole.

The Moorings Sustainability Mission: We are dedicated to leading the industry in sustainable tourism initiatives and providing vacations that cause a minimal impact on the local environment, culture and people of our charter destinations while offering real economic benefit to local communities.
The Expedition Biosphere initiative further complements our effort to heighten environmental awareness globally and aid in the preservation of our destination’s cruising grounds for generations to come.

Expedition Biosphere - Team Mission

According to the recent evaluation by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), humpback whales in Oceania (the South Pacific) are in danger of extinction. Although most of Oceania’s humpback whale populations are presently surveyed by research teams, a vast region that may harbor an important population remains incredibly understudied—the Tuamotu and Gambier Islands of French Polynesia.
During September 2010, the team will conduct boat-based research surveys to establish whether this region constitutes an important breeding ground harboring a distinct stock of humpback whales.
The study will allow the team to obtain a more complete understanding of humpback whales in French Polynesia, which is crucial for the conservation and management of this species throughout Oceania.
The study will likewise furnish preliminary data on other species of whales and dolphins in the region, specifically in the area of Fakarava, classed by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve.

This project has three principal objectives:

1) Evaluate the presence of humpback whales in the Tuamotu and Gambier Islands and determine if this region is used as a breeding ground by this species

2) Determine if humpback whales in the Tuamotu and Gambier Islands are part of the same population as those whales observed in the Society and Austral Islands.

3) Conduct a census of all whale and dolphin species in the Tuamotu and Gambier Islands, and complete a description of the relative abundance and habitats of each.