Cascadia Research Collective Hawaii OASIS project whale and dolphin sightings
Cascadia Research Collective

Dataset credit

Robin W. Baird, Cascadia Research Collective


Primary contact Robin Baird Cascadia Research Collective
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University



Eighteen species of odontocetes have been documented in Hawaiian waters. Prior to 2000, most research focused on spinner dolphins. Since February 2000, we have been undertaking research on cetaceans in Hawaiian waters (under the authorization of National Marine Fisheries Service permits), focusing on the less well-studied species of odontocetes, examining stock structure, site fidelity, population size, behavior and ecology.

This research is being coordinated by Dr. Robin Baird, but involves collaborations with researchers from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska SeaLife Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Portland State University, and Hawai'i Pacific University. Primary funding for this work has come from the U.S. Navy, National Marine Fisheries Service and the Wild Whale Research Foundation.

These studies have covered areas around all the main Hawaiian islands, from the island of Hawai'i in the east to Kaua'i and Ni'ihau in the west, and focus on a number of species, including false killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, short-finned pilot whales, rough-toothed dolphins, melon-headed whales, pygmy killer whales, pan-tropical spotted dolphins, Blainville's beaked whales, and Cuvier's beaked whales. More information on this research is available online.


This research addresses three broad areas:
1. Odontocete stock structure. This involves examination of residency and inter-island movements of individuals using photo-identification and satellite- and VHF-radio tagging, and population structure using genetic markers (from skin biopsies). We have photo-identification catalogs of 11 species: bottlenose dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, spinner dolphins, false killer whales, killer whales, melon-headed whales, short-finned pilot whales, pygmy killer whales, Cuvier's beaked whales, Blainville's beaked whales, and dwarf sperm whales, and have added photographs taken over the last 20 years of individuals of a number of species off the island of Hawai'i, collected by Dan McSweeney of the Wild Whale Research Foundation. Photographs of sperm whales are also contributed to a catalog at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. In April 2006, we began deployments of long-term VHF and satellite tags (based on a tag design of Dr. Russ Andrews of the University of Alaska Fairbanks) on short-finned pilot whales, false killer whales, melon-headed whales, Cuvier's beaked whales and Blainville's beaked whales, to examine movements around the islands. For molecular studies, to date (March 2012) we have collected over 1,200 genetic samples from 10 different species, and have more field work planned. These samples are being analysed by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California, and by a graduate student at Oregon State University.

2. Odontocete population assessment. Population estimation is undertaken using mark-recapture analyses of individual photo-identification data. To date, data from bottlenose dolphins, false killer whales, rough-toothed dolphins, Cuvier's beaked whales and Blainville's beaked whales have been analyzed, and catalogs for other species are available for such analyses. Some of this work (e.g., false killer whales) is being done in collaboration with other researchers (Dan Salden of the Hawai'i Whale Research Foundation, John Durban of the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, and Mark Deakos of the Hawai'i Association for Marine Education and Research).

3. Diving behavior and ecology. These studies involve using suction-cup attached tags, analyses of habitat use, and studies of trophic ecology. Habitat use is being examined looking at distribution in relation to depth and slope using ArcGIS. Studies of trophic ecology involve stable isotope and fatty acid analyses of skin samples, in collaboration with Dr. Jason Turner of the University of Hawai'i, Hilo. Tagging studies have involved deployments of time-depth recorders on short-finned pilot whales, false killer whales, pantropical spotted dolphins, Cuvier's beaked whales, Blainville's beaked whales, melon-headed whales, and humpback whales, as well as deployments of the National Geographic Crittercam system on short-finned pilot whales and false killer whales.

Supplemental information

[UPDATE] The dataset was updated on 2013-09-18 with new records added and the existing records collected from a Navy monitoring program moved to a new dataset.

Effort data available in original publications. One record did not have group size information and was filled with 1 to be conservative and noted in the [Notes] field.




Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downlodable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission unless otherwise noted below.

Attributes in dataset provided

Attribute (table column)Description
oidUnique ID number (generated by SEAMAP)
sp_tsnITIS taxonomic serial number
date_orgDate in original format
obs_dateObserved date
obs_timeObserved time
obs_countGroup size (best)
latitudeLatitude of observation
start_longitudeLongitude in original format (positive)
longitudeLongitude of observation
Marine mammals1,958
Sea turtles0
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin2000-03-04
Date, End2012-12-21
Temporal prec.111110
Latitude19.07 - 22.46
Longitude-160.59 - -155.86
Coord. prec.5 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
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