PIFSC & SWFSC, Cetacean Survey, HICEAS 2017, Cruise 1705/1706, NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC)

Dataset credit

NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center


Primary contact Marie C. Hill NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University



The Hawaiian Islands Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey (HICEAS) of 2017 was a large-scale ship survey for cetaceans and seabirds within U.S. waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. HICEAS 2017 was the third of its kind using many of the same methods and encompassing the same study area as surveys which occurred in 2002 (Barlow et al. 2006) and 2010 (Bradford et al. 2017). The 2017 survey represented the first Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey conducted as part of the Pacific Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (PacMAPPS), a partnership between NOAA Fisheries, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), U.S. Navy, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. PacMAPPS includes rotational ship surveys in regions of joint interest throughout the Pacific designed to estimate the abundance of cetaceans and seabirds and to assess the ecosystems supporting these species.

HICEAS 2017 was a collaborative survey between the Pacific Islands and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers (PIFSC and SWFSC). The survey took place from 6 July to 1 December 2017, aboard the NOAA Ships Oscar Elton Sette and Reuben Lasker, spanning 7 survey “legs” and 179 days-at-sea across both ships.


The primary goals of HICEAS 2017 were to collect data required to estimate the abundance and distribution, examine the population structure, and understand the habitat of cetaceans within U.S. waters around the Hawaiian Islands. There were 5 major research components to HICEAS 2017:
● visual observations for cetaceans following a line-transect survey design;
● passive acoustic monitoring for cetaceans using towed hydrophone arrays, sonobuoys, and autonomous drifting acoustic recorders;
● collection of photographs and tissue samples and deployment of satellite tags for select cetacean groups;
● visual observations for seabirds following a strip-transect survey design; and
● ecosystem measurements for assessment of cetacean and seabird habitat.

Supplemental information

[2023-09-06] Some of the sightings got their group sizes estimated incorrectly. These are fixed.

Data from survey legs aboard Oscar Elton Sette (Cruise ID: 1706) and Reuben Lasker (Cruise ID: 1705) were merged.
Survey tracks include on-effort segments only.

Attributes for fields within the trackline files:
Cruise - see description in attribute table below
segnum - segment number for continuous on-effort line
Date - Local date m/dd/yyyy
TimeStart - Local time at start of on-effort segment
LatStart - Latitude in decimal degrees at starting point of on-effort segment
LongStart - Longitude in decimal degrees at starting point of on-effort segment
TimeEnd - Local time at end of on-effort segment
LatEnd - Latitude in decimal degrees at end point of on-effort segment
LongEnd - Longitude in decimal degrees at end point of on-effort segment
Mode - see description in attribute table below
EffType - see description in attribute table below
avgSpdKt - average speed (knots) of the ship over the on-effort segment traveled
avgBft - average Beaufort Sea State over the on-effort segment




This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
All attributes are included in the downloadable file (CSV or ESRI File Geodatabase) for "Complete Set of Dataset".

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
oidUnique ID number (generated by OBIS-SEAMAP)
linedefinition not provided
sightnoSighting number (each ship recorded separate continuous numbers incrementing from 1)
datetimeSighting date/time at local time zone
latShip Latitude in decimal degrees
lonShip Longitude in decimal degrees
cruiseCruise No. (1705 - all legs aboard Reuben Lasker; 1706 - all legs aboard Oscar Elton Sette)
modeC = closing (observer team went off-effort when a cetacean group was sighted to focus on species identification, group-size estimation, or other data collection); P = passing (search effort was continuous even after a sighting was made; rare - generally occurring only when the ship was required to be somewhere at a specific time)
efftypeEffort Type: S = standard/systematic (search effort while following predetermined parallel transects); N = Non-standard/non-systematic (search effort during transit between transect lines, to & from port, or circumnavigating islands); F = fine scale (search effort within the main Hawaiian Islands focal area)
oneffortEffort status assigned in the field: TRUE = on-effort (the 3-person observer team was on the flying bridge actively searching for cetaceans); FALSE = off-effort (the observer team had suspended active searching; e.g., during another sighting or inclement weather). Depending on analysis assumptions, some on-effort sightings could be considered off-effort (e.g., made by a non-primary observer or past a specified truncation distance). For more information on additional data attributes or considerations, please contact the data provider.
nspNumber of cetacean species present during an encounter (sighting)
spcodeSpecies code maintained by contributor
scinameScientific name
commonnameCommon name
sp_tsnTaxonomic Serial Number added by OBIS-SEAMAP
gsspbestBest estimate of species group size (the arithmetic mean of all observers)
gssphighHigh estimate of species group size (the arithmetic mean of all observers)
gssplowLow estimate of species group size (the arithmetic mean of all observers)
perpdistkmPerpendicular distance (km) of the sighted group from the trackline
bftBeaufort sea state
swellhghtSwell height (height of predominant swell in feet)
visVisibility (distance in nautical miles at which a dolphin could be seen surfacing with the water (not sky) as background)
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
Marine mammals356
Sea turtles0
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin2017-07-08
Date, End2017-11-30
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude16.56 - 32.02
Longitude177.96 - 239.89
Coord. prec.5 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
EffortYES (ID: 2181)
Traveled (km)23,462
Effort hours1,284
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