Ocean Camp in Maui

Wild About Whales!

group photo with whale fluke We ended June and entered July with our “Wild About Whales” week at Ocean Camp.  Although the fastest recorded migration for Hawaii’s humpback whales is 39 days, campers covered this approximate 3,000 mile journey in only four days! Participating in a variety of activities, campers explored humpback whale feeding and calving grounds and learned about the respective whale behaviors occurring in these locations such as bubble net feeding and nursing.

By understanding whale anatomy and research techniques, campers also learned how to identify individual whales from their fluke which is unique to each individual whale similar to how every human has a different fingerprint! We even experienced a behind-the-scenes tour of our research lab where we received tips from the experts while being surrounded by a collection of humpback whale data recorded over the last 30 years.

From fluke to stomach, we dove into and digested the different anatomical features of the whale. After examining the cluttery contents found in its stomach (albeit a non-invasive cardboard-constructed, brown-boxed belly), campers were motivated to partake in a beach clean-up along the south shore of Maui.  In about 30 minutes, they accumulated over 400 pieces of trash. Cigarettes butts and monofilament fishing line along with bottles and cans galore were ingloriously represented in this raid for rubbish removal, but campers delighted in their dutiful stewardship and were even recognized and appreciated by fellow beach patrons.

As the camp week closed, our campers celebrated America’s Independence Day and the freedom this day represents so that we can be a voice to create change. Among captivity, whaling and SONAR, one of the major concerns our campers voiced was the effects of litter and marine debris.

Poster with USA flag, breaching whale and "no more trash" Ultimately, we learned to be “Wild About Whales” is to be both whale and well informed. By acquiring knowledge and awareness, we are empowered to protect freely a habitat where inhabitants can live freely — free of debris, captivity, SONAR and other conservation issues. We dream big at Ocean Camp!

Food Container and Balloon from the ocean.

Every Day is Oceans Day

During the summer months, the research team continues our year-round dolphin surveys and marine debris study. Last year after six months of surveys, we had 35 encounters with dolphins and collected 430 pieces of debris (e.g. plastic, Styrofoam, cardboard). That’s 12 pieces of marine debris for every dolphin sighting! Even more disturbing is that while surface debris is easy to find and collect, there is much more garbage lurking below the ocean’s surface.

One common item we find while doing ocean surveys are balloons. This is particularly true after holidays such as the 4th of July. Balloons can easily slip out of our fingers and float away, but remember: what goes up must come down.  Smaller debris items such as balloons are often mistaken for food and ingested by wildlife, leading to health problems, choking and death.


What can you do to help? If you don’t already, start recycling at your house, office and school. If you can’t find a local recycling program, start your own. Participate in local clean ups. If you see litter on the ground, pick it up! If we thought more about where our garbage ends up, it would make a huge difference to the animals that call the ocean home.