Hawaiʻi Whale Tracking

Hawaiʻi Whale Tracking

Robin Baird of Cascadia Research Collective (CRC) has provided PacIOOS with satellite tracking of several tagged Hawaiian whales from 2006-2011, including false killer whales (22 individuals), pygmy killer whales (2 individuals), and Blainville’s beaked whales (9 individuals). These are now accessible in Voyager. Look for them under “fish and wildlife” in the “tracking” and “distributions” categories. This supplements the extensive CRC sightings data (direct human observations of species locations) already accessible through Voyager.

False killer whales have the lowest abundance estimate of any odontocetes in Hawaiian waters. Two populations have been recognized. The main Hawaiian Islands insular population (Baird et al. 2012), estimated at about 150 individuals, was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2012. Two false killer whales from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands insular population were also tagged (Baird et al. 2013), with data provided by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) (Erin Oleson) and Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) (Jay Barlow).

Voyager screenshot of tracked false killer whale PcTag026 October 14-28 2010 (view animation):

Voyager Screenshot

Pygmy killer whales are another of the least abundant odontocetes in Hawaiian waters. Photo-identification and satellite tagging (Baird et al. 2011) suggests there are small resident populations of pygmy killer whales off several of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Voyager screenshot of tracked pygmy killer whale FaTag002 December 6-16 2008:

Voyager Screenshot

From photo-identification and satellite tagging there is evidence of a small resident population of Blainville’s beaked whales off the island of Hawaiʻi (Big Island), as well as an offshore population. Less is known about this species off other islands. The MdTag009 tag deployment is an individual from the offshore population (Baird et al. 2011), while other deployments are on individuals from the resident insular population (Schorr et al. 2009).

Voyager screenshot of tracked Blainville’s beaked whale MdTag009 April 29 to June 7 2009 (view animation):

Voyager Screenshot

PacIOOS has also generated a Web Map Service (WMS) for spatial distributions of these and other species that combine satellite tracking and human sightings from CRC and other data providers. This interoperable Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standard will help users who may want to incorporate map imagery of these layers into other mapping applications: WMS GetCapabilities.

Founded in 1979 to conduct research needed to manage and protect threatened marine mammals, CRC has been undertaking surveys for odontocetes and other cetaceans in Hawaiian waters since 2000. For further information, please visit:

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PacIOOS is the first regional association that was certified as a Regional Information Coordination Entity (RICE) by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Certification provides NOAA and its interagency partners a means to verify that a regional association’s organizational and operational practices, including data management, meet recognized and established standards set by NOAA.