PIFSC Staff conduct site visit to American Samoa in July 2014

Four Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) staff conducted site visits to American Samoa in early July, including Risa Oram (Director’s Office – Science Operations), Kolter Kalberg (Socioeconomics and Planning Group (SPG) – Economics Research Program) and Kimberly Lowe (Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division – Insular Fish Monitoring Program) and Michael Quach (Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division – Western Pacific Fishery Information Network WPacFIN).

View of Pago Harbor from Mt. Alava, American Samoa

View of Pago Harbor from Mt. Alava, American Samoa

Risa Oram is the PIFSC Liaison Team Leader for American Samoa, Guam and CNMI.  The main purpose of her trip was to meet with the American Samoa Field Liaison, Gataivai Talamoa to help with continuing orientation, finalize outreach materials and plan for FY15 activities.  Gataivai Talamoa was hired primarily to assist with cruise logistics during cruise years and to help provide assistance to staff visiting American Samoa from PIFSC to ensure they have the information and help they may need to have a successful visit.  This includes orienting folks to local cultural protocols and dress expectations, among other things. Gataivai Talamoa also assists the Office of Atmospheric Research, Global Monitoring Division with some of their research needs at the NOAA Observatory in Tula.

As part of Risa Oram’s visit, meetings were held with natural resource agency partners, including Dr. Ruth Matagi Tofiga, the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) Director and Ms. Selaina Tuimavave, Deputy Director of DMWR. The DMWR Director reemphasized the availability of the PIFSC American Samoa Liaison to work closely with DMWR to meet the goals and objectives of the PIFSC. Risa Oram also met with other DMWR staff, Coral Reef Advisory Group staff, University of Hawaii Sea Grant staff, American Samoa Community College Marine Science instructor, National Marine Sanctuaries and National Parks partners, among others.

Gataivai Talamoa and Risa Oram discussed some PowerPoint slides that can be used to create local outreach materials to help educate community members about the science that PIFSC does in American Samoa. They also discussed some ideas for educating young people about the various career paths one might choose to get a job in NOAA. This includes some specific suggestions about types of majors, examples of good school programs and how to navigate the federal job application process on USAjobs. Gataivai Talamoa and Risa Oram also attended a One-NOAA meeting held in the NOAA housing compound area in Lions Park and met the current (Jesse Milton) and future (Refael Klein) station chief for the NOAA Observatory in Tula. Risa Oram and other PIFSC staff visiting American Samoa during the same time (Kolter Kalberg and Michael Quach) attended a traditional umu celebration of the completion of the housing renovations that includes a new outreach center and also attended a tour of the NOAA Observatory in Tula.

Left to right - Jesse Milton (NOAA Corps), Gataivai Talamoa and Refael Klein (NOAA Corps) after a One NOAA meeting

Left to right – Jesse Milton (NOAA Corps), Gataivai Talamoa and Refael Klein (NOAA Corps) after a One NOAA meeting

Michael Quach and Kolter Kalberg on top of the NOAA Observatory in Tula, American Samoa

Michael Quach and Kolter Kalberg on top of the NOAA Observatory in Tula, American Samoa

Kolter Kalberg was also visiting American Samoa to collect trip-specific expenditure data from participants in the American Samoa-based longline fleet. Kolter Kalberg met with DMWR officials to discuss efficient means for fielding SPG’s upcoming survey of the local small-boat fishing fleet. Kalberg also interviewed a number of longline captains in Pago Pago and worked with PIFSC Fisheries Monitoring Branch Operational Research Analyst, Darryl Tagami to examine the validity of data regarding regional bluefin tuna landings.

Kolter Kalberg interviewing longline vessel agent

Kolter Kalberg interviewing longline vessel agent

Posted in Scientific Operations, Socioeconomics and Planning Group | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Science Camp allows Hawaii students to learn what it takes to be a marine scientist

NOAA Fisheries recently held a first annual Science Camp at the NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center (IRC). The camp hosted 60 middle school students as well as six teachers from schools around the island of Oahu. The target audience was eighth grade students from public and charter schools, with an emphasis on reaching under-represented students. The students were divided into two groups of 30 for each of two sessions.

Science Camp Session 1 group photo

Science Camp Session 1 • June 23-24, 2014

Science Camp Session 2 group photo

Science Camp Session 2 • June 26-27, 2014

Campers learned about techniques to study fish life history, including aging fish with their otoliths, or ear stones.

Campers learned about techniques to study fish life history, including aging fish with their otoliths, or ear stones.

The two-day camp featured six science modules focused on marine debris, fisheries stock assessment, fish life history, marine food webs, marine plankton and Hawaiian monk seals. NOAA and JIMAR scientists conducted activities in the IRC building and labs, providing the students with unique hands-on experiences. They also exposed campers to the diversity of backgrounds and career fields represented at NOAA Fisheries.

The Wonderful World of Plankton

The Wonderful World of Plankton

Science Camp Challenge

Science Camp Challenge

 

 

 

 

The second day of camp featured a mystery scenario where the students were challenged to use their new-found knowledge to create a research plan to study a never-before-seen species. In addition, the groups used clay to create either a new technology or to imagine how the species might have appeared. From the campers’ post evaluations, it was evident that they enjoyed the camp and absorbed quite a bit of the information presented, especially from the fish dissection and marine plankton modules. The teachers provided valuable assistance with the student subgroups as well as feedback on the presentations, activities and materials.

A clay model that was created by a camper for the Science Camp Challenge.

A clay model that was created by a camper for the Science Camp Challenge.

Posted in From PIFSC Director's Office

Saipan Community tours NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette

NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette

NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette

On Saturday July 5th 2014, over 250 people from the Saipan Community came out and got the chance to tour a NOAA research vessel and to learn about NOAA ships, the NOAA Corps officers and NOAA Wage Mariners who run them, and the recent research that was conducted by federal and local researchers who just returned from an expedition to the waters off the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) archipelago’s northernmost islands led by Chief Scientist Robert L. Humphreys Jr.

Chief Scientist Robert Humphreys talks with visitors about the fish on display and the value in understanding the life history of targeted fish species

Chief Scientist Robert Humphreys talks with visitors about the fish on display and the value in understanding the life history of targeted fish species

Scientists and crew of the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette hosted guided tours that gave participants the chance to see the ship inside and out and learn about how the ship operates and how research is conducted.  They were also given a chance to visit with the Chief Scientist and see some of the samples collected from their recent research.

Open house visitors tour the galley and enjoy refreshments as Jamie Barlow explains the galley operations.

Open house visitors tour the galley and enjoy refreshments as Jamie Barlow explains the galley operations.

The research conducted included deep-slope bottomfish bio-sampling, documentation of shark depredation/ interaction with deep-slope bottomfish operations, reef-fish bio-sampling,  deploy and later retrieve archeological field researchers and supplies on Alamagan, and intertidal-shallow water benthic surveys and water quality sampling of Uracas, Maug, and Asuncion within the Marina Trench Marine National Monument (MTMNM) and Pagan, Guguan, Sarigan, and Anatahan within the CNMI.  These projects are anticipated to provide samples to support additional research projects to evaluate latitudinal shifts in trophic relations via stable isotope analysis of tissue samples, and to evaluate genetic connectivity within the Mariana Archipelago.

CNMI groupers (top to bottom) Seloptia powelli, Epinephelus retouti , Cephalopholis sexmaculata.

CNMI groupers (top to bottom) Seloptia powelli, Epinephelus retouti , Cephalopholis sexmaculata.

Bottom Fish of CNMI (top to bottom) Yellow Tail Kale Kale / Pristipomoides auricella,  Ehu/Etelis carbunculus, and Blue-lined Gindai/Pristipomoides argyrogrammicus.

Bottom Fish of CNMI (top to bottom) Yellow Tail Kale Kale / Pristipomoides auricella, Ehu / Etelis carbunculus, and Blue-lined Gindai / Pristipomoides argyrogrammicus.

Fish Specialist, Megan Sundberg shows a grouper to a future marine biologist.

Fish Specialist, Megan Sundberg shows a grouper to a future marine biologist.

Posted in Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division (FRMD), Scientific Operations | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Coral research in main Hawaiian Islands: report

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center has published Cruise Report HA-13-04, Legs I and II. Personnel from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, University of Hawai’i at Hilo, and San Diego State University conducted interdisciplinary surveys of benthos, fishes, and climate in waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands as part of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan (NCRMP). The cruise period occurred from 1 August 2013 to 23 August 2013. The cruise report can be accessed at http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/library/pubs/cruise/Hiialakai/CRHA1304I.pdf 

Posted in Uncategorized

Indonesia engages in an ambitious effort to finalize ecosystem-based fisheries management plans nationwide

By Megan Moews-Asher

Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) in July 2013 tasked 13 select individuals across its numerous directorates, along with NGO, university, and contracting representatives, with development of a fisheries management plan (known as an “RPP” in Indonesia) for the Arafura Sea by the end of the year. In November 2013, to this team of dedicated experts toward the development of the Arafura Sea RPP, Dr. Rusty Brainard and Megan Moews-Asher of the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) and Dr. Robert Pomeroy of Connecticut Sea Grant, in partnership with and largely funded by the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), provided technical assistance on a planning process for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM). The Arafura Sea fisheries management area, known to MMAF as WPP-718, is 1 of 11 large WPPs (a fisheries management area is called a “WPP” in Indonesia) that together cover all of the national waters of Indonesia. In a race against time, this prototype RPP was finalized by December 2013 and received a ministerial decree on February 18, 2014.

Dr. Toni Ruchimat, Director of the Directorate of Fisheries Resources of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, speaks at the workshop in Bandung, Indonesia, for members of the Regional Forums for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources for WPPs 571, 572, and 573 (a fisheries management area is known as a “WPP” in Indonesia). NOAA photo by Megan Moews-Asher

Dr. Toni Ruchimat, Director of the Directorate of Fisheries Resources of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, speaks at the workshop in Bandung, Indonesia, for the Regional Forums for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources for the WPPs 571, 572, and 573 (a fisheries management area is known as a “WPP” in Indonesia). NOAA photo by Megan Moews-Asher

Fast-forward to today, and MMAF aims to have similar EAFM-based plans for the remaining 10 WPPs across Indonesia prepared for ministerial decree by July 2014. The deadline has turned out to be extremely challenging, and an RPP team of Indonesians (some of whom were a part of the Arafura Sea team) from the Directorate of Fisheries Resources (SDI) of MMAF’s Directorate General of Capture Fisheries, Bogor Agricultural University, the USAID-funded Indonesia Marine and Climate Support Project, and the Marine Protected Areas Governance Program has been working tirelessly to meet it. The team developed drafts based on the outline from the Arafura Sea RPP and inputs on key threats and issues from Indonesia’s National and Regional Forums for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources (FKPPS), which are made up of stakeholders from national, provincial, and district-level governments in addition to some NGO, university, and fisheries representatives.

Rusty Brainard makes a presentation on why Indonesia should engage in an ecosystem approach to fisheries management at the workshop in Palu, Indonesia, for stakeholders from the Regional Forum for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources for the WPPs 713, 714, 715, and 718 (a fisheries management area is known as a “WPP” in Indonesia). NOAA photo by Megan Moews-Asher

Rusty Brainard makes a presentation on why Indonesia should engage in an ecosystem approach to fisheries management at the workshop in Palu, Indonesia, for stakeholders from the Regional Forum for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources for the WPPs 713, 714, 715, and 718. NOAA photo by Megan Moews-Asher

The opening ceremony at the workshop in Banten, Indonesia, included performances of traditional drumming and dance. NOAA photo by Rusty Brainard

The opening ceremony at the workshop in Banten, Indonesia, included performances of traditional drumming and dance. NOAA photo by Rusty Brainard

An official of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries discusses governance of fisheries management areas at the workshop in Banten, Indonesia. NOAA photo by Megan Moews-Asher

An official of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries discusses governance of fisheries management areas at the workshop in Banten. NOAA photo by Megan Moews-Asher

Megan Moews-Asher at the workshop in Bogor, Indonesia, presents the 5-step planning process for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management to stakeholders from the Regional Forums for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources that represent the fisheries management areas WPP-716 and WPP-717. NOAA photo by Rusty Brainard

Megan Moews-Asher at the workshop in Bogor, Indonesia, presents the 5-step planning process for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management to stakeholders from the Regional Forums for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources that represent the fisheries management areas WPP-716 and WPP-717. NOAA photo by Rusty Brainard

During the period of June 1–13, Brainard and Moews-Asher, joined part of the time by Dr. Supin Wongbusarakum (CRED’s new program manager and a former senior social scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s international program), Dr. Rudolf Hermes of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) Project, and Jason Philibotte of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, traveled to Palu in Central Sulawesi and Bogor, Bandung, and Banten, all in Java, with the RPP team to socialize EAFM to members of the Regional FKPPS for 2–4 WPPs per workshop and provided input toward the draft RPPs for all 11 of Indonesia’s WPPs. The provision of technical support for this SDI-led effort reflects one of NOAA’s major activities in partnership with USAID Indonesia and in response to a request for EAFM socialization and RPP technical assistance by the Director General of Capture Fisheries, Dr. Gellwyn Jusuf.

Events at each location began the night before the workshops began, with festive opening ceremonies that included traditional dance, opening remarks from high-ranking officials, and a showing of the high-profile launch of the Arafura Sea RPP when it received ministerial decree. The following day at each location, Brainard and Moews-Asher (joined by Dr. Hermes in Bandung) presented background on their efforts in the region, what an EAFM is, the key principles of EAFM, why it is advantageous to use an EAFM, a case study demonstrating the long-term U.S. transition toward an EAFM and lessons learned, and how to implement an EAFM. As part of the latter presentation, the group reviewed the 5-step EAFM planning process developed by NOAA, FAO, BOBLME, and the U.S. Coral Triangle Initiative’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership and Program Integrator (PI) from the recently published Essential EAFM curriculum. In addition, they presented a conceptual, WPP-scale governance framework to assist participants in thinking about how to vertically integrate management from national to provincial to district and community scales, including consideration of some sort of fisheries ecosystem management council and advisory groups. The participants then discussed whether such a structure could work for their WPPs or how they could potentially modify it to meet their needs. Although the first day of each workshop was an all-day affair, MMAF and the FKPPS stakeholders began discussion and modification of their draft RPPs at night, often with everyone working until as late as 11 p.m. On the third day of each workshop, the RPPs were finalized, and the RPP team and other MMAF representatives presented information on the ministerial decree for the RPPs, concerns with migratory fishermen, and policy and scientific information (as well as data needs)—laying the foundation for the management efforts.

Rusty Brainard listens attentively to comments of a stakeholder from a Regional Forum for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources at the workshop in Bogor, Indonesia. NOAA photo by Megan Moews-Asher

Rusty Brainard listens attentively to comments of a stakeholder from a Regional Forum for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources at the workshop in Bogor, Indonesia. NOAA photo by Megan Moews-Asher

At the workshop in Banten, Indonesia, stakeholders from the Regional Forums for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources that represent the fisheries management areas WPP-711 and WPP-712 discuss WPP governance using a framework for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. NOAA photo by Rusty Brainard

At the workshop in Banten, Indonesia, stakeholders from the Regional Forums for Coordination of Management and Utilization of Fish Resources that represent the fisheries management areas WPP-711 and WPP-712 discuss WPP governance using a framework for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. NOAA photo by Rusty Brainard

 

Results: Indonesia is taking ambitious steps toward an EAFM for sustainable management of its fisheries and marine resources to meet its goals for food security, livelihoods, economic development, and biodiversity conservation. Draft RPPs were finalized for all 10 remaining WPPs during the 4 workshops in Palu, Bogor, Bandung, and Banten, with plans to obtain ministerial decree and provide them to the Presidential Working Group by July 2014. In addition, there has been a noticeable and positive transition in MMAF’s stance on an EAFM, as demonstrated in each of the RPPs and in daily discussions with the RPP team and participants. Prior to the concerted efforts by the NOAA EAFM team and partners to teach and integrate EAFM into efforts throughout the Coral Triangle, EAFM was embraced only in part by MMAF staff. Today, Indonesia’s MMAF frequently and proudly speaks about their efforts to adopt an EAFM and is working to base much of their fisheries management planning on an EAFM, as demonstrated by the inclusion of numerous points and citations from the EAFM resource materials and publications in their draft plans. Furthermore, through the multiple FKPPS meetings (both national and regional) as well as other stakeholder meetings that MMAF sponsored to obtain input for the drafting of the RPPs, Indonesia has begun to move toward increased stakeholder engagement and comanagement.

During the workshop in Banten, Indonesia, Dr. Toni Ruchimat, Director of the Directorate of Fisheries Resources (SDI) of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and NOAA team members Rusty Brainard, Jason Philibotte, and Megan Moews-Asher present Ibu Erni Widjajanti, who is the fisheries management plan (RPP) team lead, with a NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program banner as a token of appreciation for all of her hard work, leadership, and drive. NOAA photo

During the workshop in Banten, Indonesia, Dr. Toni Ruchimat, Director of the Directorate of Fisheries Resources (SDI) of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and NOAA team members Rusty Brainard, Jason Philibotte, and Megan Moews-Asher present Ibu Erni Widjajanti, who is the fisheries management plan (RPP) team lead, with a NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program banner as a token of appreciation for all of her hard work, leadership, and drive. NOAA photo

Participants of the workshop in Bandung, Indonesia, pose for a group photo. NOAA photo

Participants of the workshop in Bandung, Indonesia, pose for a group photo. NOAA photo

On account of the extremely tight deadlines that SDI faces in finalizing the RPPs for all 11 WPPs, the RPP team was unable to bring all key stakeholders to the table prior to the drafting of the RPPs, and so SDI director Dr. Toni Ruchimat, the RPP team, and Dr. Jusuf anticipate further stakeholder engagement as the plans unfold in each of the WPPs. They have expressed that the plans should act as “living documents” so that they can engage in “adaptive management,” a key principle of an EAFM. Although MMAF realizes that there is still a great deal of work to be done, these are exciting times as Indonesia makes a fundamental shift toward an EAFM!

Going forward, the NOAA EAFM team has been asked by USAID and MMAF to continue supporting these efforts as SDI moves toward RPP implementation and incorporates achievable monitoring and evaluation into their plans. This fall, the team also will be working closely with the FAO and BOBLME to conduct the comprehensive training course, “Essential EAFM,” which they developed together with the CTSP and PI as well as IMA International and the Asia Pacific Fisheries Commission, to help train fisheries managers and institutionalize the training into the National Training Directorate of Indonesia. In addition, the EAFM team (working closely with other NOAA and external partners) will be instrumental in helping Indonesia obtain information on climatology data, night light fishing, and climate and ocean change predictions to assist with sustainable fisheries management in each of the WPPs.

These photos capture ordinary people in Palu, Indonesia, who depend on fish for their food security and livelihoods. The close link of the people of Indonesia to their marine resources is one of the most important reasons why NOAA is doing work in the region. NOAA photos by Rusty Brainard

Palu_father_boat Palu_women_market Palu_kid_fishingThese photos show ordinary people in Palu, Indonesia, who depend on fish for their food security and livelihoods. The close link of the people of Indonesia to their fisheries and other marine resources is one of the most important reasons why NOAA is working in this region. NOAA photos by Rusty Brainard

Posted in Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cetacean Surveys of the Southern Mariana Islands: Rota (June 16-20, 2014)

by Marie Hill, Andrea Bendlin, Allan Ligon, Adam Ü, and Erin Oleson

During 5 days of surveys off Rota, we covered 488 km of trackline and encountered 14 groups of cetacean species including  Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), and unidentified beaked whales (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Survey tracklines (grey lines) and cetacean sightings around Rota (16-21 June, 2014). Gm- Globicephala macrorhynchus (short-finned pilot whale), Md- Mesoplodon densirostris (Blainville’s  beaked whale),  Sa- Stenella attenuata (pantropical spotted dolphin), Sl- Stenella longirostris (spinner dolphin), Tt- Tursiops truncatus (bottlenose dolphin), uZ- unidentified Ziphiid whale (unidentified beaked whale).

Figure 1: Survey tracklines (grey lines) and cetacean sightings around Rota (16-21 June, 2014). Gm- Globicephala macrorhynchus (short-finned pilot whale), Md- Mesoplodon densirostris (Blainville’s beaked whale), Sa- Stenella attenuata (pantropical spotted dolphin), Sl- Stenella longirostris (spinner dolphin), Tt- Tursiops truncatus (bottlenose dolphin), uZ- unidentified Ziphiid whale (unidentified beaked whale).

We had incredibly calm conditions while we were on Rota which allowed us to survey further offshore than we have in previous years.

During our first day on the water, while off the easternmost tip of the island (Figure 1), we encountered the largest group of short-finned pilot whales that we have seen to date in the Marianas (approximately 44 individuals).  We recognized some individuals from our photo-identification catalog.  We deployed 3 location-only satellite tags on individuals from different subgroups (tag ID#s 128899, 137726, and 137727) and collected 9 biopsy samples.

The following day (17 June) we encountered some of the same short-finned whales off the south side of the island (Figure 1), including two of the three satellite-tagged individuals (tag ID#s 128899 and 137726).  They were traveling with the group of short-finned pilot whales that we had encountered off of Guam on 19 May, including the two satellite-tagged individuals (tag ID#s 128889 and 128920).  We deployed another satellite tag on an adult male from the Guam group (tag ID# 137728).

These five individuals (tag ID#s 128889, 128920, 128899, 137726, 137728) continued to travel together during the day on 17 June (Figure 2).  At approximately 17:00 they were less than 3 km from the location where we encountered the group of pilot whales just the day before (Figures 1 and 2).  During our encounter with the short-finned pilot whales on 17 June, we did not see the individual with tag ID# 137727. The satellite transmission locations from this tag were off the north side of Rota (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Satellite tag locations of short-finned pilot whales between 15:00 and 16:00 on 17 June.

Figure 2: Satellite tag locations of short-finned pilot whales between 15:00 and 16:00 on 17 June.

Approximately 24 hours later some of the tagged individuals were in different locations from each other (Figure 3).  Individuals with tag ID#s 128899 and 137726 were off the northwest side of Rota.  Individuals with tag ID#s 128920 and 137728 were off the north side of Guam, while the individual with tag ID# 133727 was approximately 12 km south of Rota.  The individual with tag ID# 128889 is not pictured in Figure 3 because no transmission was received at that time.

Figure 3: Satellite tag locations for short-finned pilot whales between 16:00 and 17:00 on 18 June.

Figure 3: Satellite tag locations for short-finned pilot whales between 16:00 and 17:00 on 18 June.

Another 48 hours later, between 16:00 and 17:00 on 20 June, individuals with tag ID#s 128899 and 137726 were off the southeast side of Tinian.  Individuals with tag ID#s 128889, 128920, 137727, and 137728 were off the south side of Rota (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Satellite tag locations for short-finned pilot whales between 16:00 and 17:00 on 21 June.

Figure 4: Satellite tag locations for short-finned pilot whales between 16:00 and 17:00 on 21 June.

The most recent locations for the satellite transmissions from the tagged short-finned pilot whales are shown in Figure 5. It will be interesting to see how they continue to move around the islands and if they join up with the other two Guam-tagged short-finned pilot whales (tag ID#s 128910 and 128914) whose tags were still transmitting on 22 June and were off the west side of Guam.

Figure 5: Satellite tag locations for short-finned pilot whales on 22 June.

Figure 5: Satellite tag locations for short-finned pilot whales on 22 June.

June 18 was an exciting day for us surveying around Rota.  Not only did we have 5 encounters with 5 different species, but we had our first encounter with a Mesoplodont beaked whale in which we were able to confirm the species.   All of our previous encounters were in rough conditions or distant.  This time we were able to get great photos of the head of a solitary adult male Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris) showing the high bottom jaw line and the erupted teeth (Figure 6).  We have known from acoustic recordings that they occur in the Marianas, but it is good to finally have visual confirmation.

Figure 6:  Adult male Blainville’s beaked whale photographed off Rota on 18 June (photo credit: Adam Ü)

Figure 6: Adult male Blainville’s beaked whale photographed off Rota on 18 June (photo credit: Adam Ü)

During our Rota surveys, pantropical spotted dolphins won out over spinner dolphins as the most encountered species.  They were our first and last encounter around the Island.  On our last day (20 June) we encountered a group of nearly 150 individuals.  It was another beautifully calm day on the ocean and a great way to wrap up our surveys (Figure 7).   We are already looking forward to next year.

Figure 7: Spotted dolphin leaping in front of our boat as we returned to the harbor off of Rota (photo credit: Adam Ü).

Figure 7: Spotted dolphin leaping in front of our boat as we returned to the harbor off of Rota (photo credit: Adam Ü).

All survey operations including satellite tagging, photo-id, and biopsy sampling were conducted under NMFS permit 15240 and CNMI Fish and Game License 14-02868.  Funding was provided by the NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The satellite tag tracks shown are based on raw transmission data and have not been quality checked.  The final products may vary from those shown in the figures above.

 

Posted in Protected Species Division (PSD) | Tagged , , , , , , ,