Nan Hauser is the President and Director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation. Her home base is in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, where she is the Principal Investigator for the Cook Islands Whale Research Project and Director of the Cook Islands Whale & Wildlife Centre. Nan’s research includes population identity, Photo ID, acoustics, genetics, surface & underwater behaviour, navigation and migration of cetaceans. Her satellite tagging work includes results on how whales migrate over long distances using linear constant course segments.
For almost a decade she was involved with the Ocean Alliance’s cetacean research expeditions aboard the R/V Odyssey. As Founder and Director of the New England Dolphin Outreach Project she has taught on a global level for the Dolphin Research Center, Whale Conservation Institute and many other non-profit organizations. She is currently on the Board of Directors of the Ajubatus Foundation in South Africa and has been awarded an International title of “Earth Ambassador”.
Nan has been a Board Member of Ajubatus Foundation in South Africa for over a decade.
This year the Kruger National Park and the Ajubatus Foundation are trying to complete an annual lion census. Next year they plan to use a new and improved lion monitoring method called patch-occupancy modeling.
“Humpbacks are the most studied of the large whales, yet much of their basic biology remains unknown”
In addition, Nan says, “there are very few estimates of humpback population parameters, and none whatsoever for the central South Pacific until recent studies.”
The humpback whale – 25 to 40 tons of pure majesty in motion.
That’s how most of us would describe these compelling, formidable animals if we were lucky enough to observe them as they languidly follow their migration routes.
Noted conservationist Nan Daeschler Hauser is indeed one of the lucky ones. Working from her primitive research base in the remote South Pacific island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, she studies the humpback whale and other whale species, including acoustics, behavior, genetics, population identity and abundance along with navigation and migratory pathways. Her team is well known for “Droning” whales in their natural habitat and the incredible footage has been used in many films and advertisements.
From her base in Rarotonga, Nan’s research aids in the worldwide conservation of cetaceans (the family of marine mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises). The Non-profit organization’s headquarters in the U.S. is located in Brunswick, Maine.
To gather more vital information on these creatures, Nan has been “satellite tagging” humpback whales in the Cook Islands since 2006. These interesting results have led to bigger questions about how whales migrate by following linear constant course segments and using celestial navigation along with gravity. Satellite tagging involves deploying a sensitive mini device onto whales which allows scientists to track these animals gathering data on their movements, habitat use and population structure.
The central tropical South Pacific where Nan works from is frequented by humpbacks in the austral winter (to breed and to calve) “which gives us a great opportunity to study the status of humpback whales in this region and gain information which is vital for developing conservation measures for this endangered species,” she says.
Contributing to the “endangered” status of humpbacks is the fact that they have been hunted extensively in the South Pacific by commercial and pirate whalers ~ even as recently as 25 years ago, the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation (CCRC) reports. “Indeed, disregarding an international moratorium on high seas whaling, several nations are clamoring to resume the hunt in these waters,” Nan adds.
To its credit, the Cook Islands have led the way in whale conservation by claiming a 2 million square kilometer whale sanctuary in the islands’ exclusive economic zone – an achievement in which Nan played a key role. Other countries have followed suit thanks to the dedication and leadership of additional conservationists.
Dedicated to her cause, Nan also serves on the executive committee and as a scientific researcher for the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium. In 2000, she built a whale education center in Rarotonga. It has now become the Cook Islands Whale and Wildlife Centre, including a broader range of native wildlife. Her philosophy is:
“Why learn it if you don’t share it”
Nan is a Trustee for “Save Our Oceans Charitable Trust” connected to the Marae Moana Marine Park in the Cook Island.
Her other field research includes operating a study site in the Bahamas where she investigates beaked whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans including Mesoplodon densirostris, a rare beaked whale, of which she and her team captured the first quality underwater footage in the world.
Currently Nan is affiliated with Auckland University, New Zealand where she is an adjunct professor. She is also a registered nurse and teaches and practices medicine on Rarontonga and the outer islands.
Among her other notable achievements and honors, Nan (in “Footprints on the Water, The Nan Hauser Story”) was featured recently as part of the Smithsonian Channel’s celebration of “Women In Science” broadcast series. She is also an Ambassador for Sustainable Seas Trust in South Africa.
Nan received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” in November 2014 for her worldwide work.
She explains, “Being a scientist and conservationist is more than my work, it’s my passion.”