From Shore to the Abyss: Exploration of Marine Mammal Communication and Shark Communities in the Main Hawaiian Islands
In our first leg of the brand-new expedition series From Shore to the Abyss, we are teaming up with (and receiving funding from) the National Geographic Society to study shallow waters near Maui and Hawaiʻi island. Project teams on this leg will combine cutting-edge technologies with indigenous Hawaiian knowledge to increase knowledge and understanding of marine life. The work will focus on sharks and marine mammals—apex predators who are culturally significant to the Hawaiian people. Our projects will pilot new advancements in tech and related techniques that enable an enhanced scientific understanding of marine animals and their environment, with fewer impacts.
The marine mammal team will conduct acoustic recordings of the underwater soundscape in different nearshore environments to analyze behavior changes in response to anthropogenic noise. They will also use a recently developed recording device that will allow identifying individual cetaceans as they vocalize, and will endeavor to identify “conversations” between animals. The shark team will utilize low-impact and non-invasive research techniques including BRUVs (baited remote underwater video systems), environmental DNA (eDNA), and an artificial intelligence image recognition tool to quantify shark and ray diversity and relative abundance. These research projects will enhance understanding of the marine environment of the main Hawaiian islands, informing policy and management of this ecosystem while testing new, accessible technologies and low-impact research methods that have minimal impact on the environment.
The From Shore to the Abyss Program expands Ocean Exploration Trust’s ocean exploration program from the deep sea into coastal ecosystems. OET is providing E/V Nautilus and our team’s expedition experience to contribute to new discoveries, focused on the conservation of coral reefs and the generation of new knowledge that can apply to global ocean conservation, education, and ocean exploration.
This expedition is funded by the National Geographic Society.