Humpback whales frequent the Hawaiian Islands during the winter for the purposes of mating and raising calves. Humpbacks are known for their incredible behavioral actions. However, these actions are being impacted by the increased noise pollution resulting from the increased tourism in Hawaii. Humpbacks rely on acoustics for communication and navigation. Excessive noise can cause severe tissue and organ damage, as well as drastic behavioral changes. In this study, pods of humpbacks were observed for eight days to determine their responses to boats in the area. Downtime, or time spent underwater, and behavior were calculated. When boats were within one-half mile of the whale pods, downtime increased and surface behaviors decreased. It was noted that whales avoid approaching boats, either vertically or horizontally, to prevent the short-term effects of vessel noise.
Lynette Delp, ’01 Omaha, NE
Major: Biology & Environmental Studies
Sponsor: Marty Condon