Summer break may be finished, but Ocean Camp memories gust thicker than my Oklahoma accent. As I plug away behind my computer reconciling administrative tasks and reacquainting myself with current events, I can easily become discouraged with the empty nest syndrome of a quieter classroom and the multitude of unjust issues impacting our precious marine life. Yet every climb down the stairs in our office confronts me with the reason why I do what I do. Tacked on an otherwise barren, white wall is a sign that speaks volumes above the noisy staircase it decorates. The artistically rendered petition reads, “Save Lolita” referring to a captive orca. This project is a representation of the many efforts that result from our educational program Ocean Camp.
Ocean Spirit arrives to her permanent home in Lahaina early this morning. The 5880.85 mile journey from St. Croix USVI to final destination in Lahaina Maui, Hawaii was completed in 42 days. Crew will be training in the next week and OS will be scheduled to run her first whalewatching tours in the near future.
Ocean Spirit looked elegant and vibrant like a racehorse ready to go, as crew members tend to last minute tests and system checks. Five crew members will set sail on a 5880.85 mile journey, from St. Croix, USVI to Maui, HI. Ocean Spirit, will be the ninth vessel of Pacific Whale Foundation’s eco fleet.
PWF’s Founder Greg Kaufman, joined our Eco Team on sea trials from Salt River Bay, St. Croix. Sails were drawn and she proved to be strong as well as fast, reaching a top speed of 21.9 knots! Final preparations will continue this week for scheduled departure on November 1, weather permitting. Stay tuned as will will report and track Ocean Spirit’s journey along the way.
After four planes, misplaced luggage and countless Sudoku puzzles I arrived my final destination, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador some 5,321 miles from Maui, Hawaii. I am here to document a two-day whale festival and Pacific Whale Foundation’s 11 year presence in a growing Whalewatch destination.
I plan to capture the transformation of a small fishing to an epic whalewatching destination. I also want to highight conservation efforts for sustainable eco-tours and communal participation and the local celebration to protect humpback whales and the Machilla Marine Park.
We just finished a wonderful milestone – the first time that the research department completed systematic transect surveys on our research vessel Ocean Protector throughout the entire whale season (December – April). We were hampered by some windy weather in April but overall it was a successful season. January and February had the most whale sightings, as usual, although we did see whales regularly throughout all of the season.
Some of the highlights of this whale season were:
- 55 survey days and 455 hours in the field, covering 3218 nautical miles.
- 293 sightings of humpback whales.
- 12 sightings of bottlenose dolphins.
- 11 sightings of spotted dolphins.
- 5 sightings of spinner dolphins.
- 3 encounters with false killer whales.
- 1 encounter with short-finned pilot whales.
Thank you to our wonderful interns and volunteers, as well as our members and supporters whose donations continue to fund our research efforts.