Help whale research

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island file photo

    Photos like this one, taken from the bow of a Holo Holo Charters Na Pali cruise, can be submitted to Cascadia Research for inclusion in a photo-ID book on 12 whale and dolphin species in Hawaii.

LIHUE — You can now get a digital camera to help out with whale and dolphin research on Kauai, but there are only five available so the waiting list could be long.

Thanks to a grant from the Tides Foundation, Robin Baird and researchers at the Cascadia Research Collective are providing five Cannon Rebel SLR digital camera systems with 75-300 mm lenses to people in areas where researchers don’t normally get many identification photos.

Those areas include Kauai, the windward side of Oahu, Molokai and Hilo.

The photos will be sent to Baird and compiled into an identification catalogue to help understand Hawaii’s dolphin and whale populations.

“Our highest priority species are false killer whales, but we are looking for photos of more common species, such as bottlenose dolphins and short-finned pilot whales, as well as rare species such as dwarf sperm whale, fin whales and pygmy killer whales,” Baird said.

The offer is geared toward people who work in and on the water, or are in and on the ocean in their daily lives, but any citizen can participate.

Contributors aren’t operating under a research permit, so any approaches to whales or dolphins have to follow the viewing rules set out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA’s “Code of Conduct” outlines guidelines such as remaining at least 100 yards from humpback whales, and 50 yards from other marine mammals — dolphins, other whale species and Hawaiian monk seals. The code is detailed on NOAA’s website.

Cascadia Research will provide a camera and a waterproof Pelican case. Any photos taken can be uploaded via Dropbox or Hightail to the research team, which has photo identification catalogues of 12 species in Hawaii.

For more information, email Robin Baird at


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