Additional info about the vessel:
Two 240Hp Yanmar engines
Furuno Fish finder
2 Furuno multi
3 Standard horizon VHF
Ambient weather station
3 inverters 3000VA
Flagship Marine aircon
4m dubbel hull “segundo”
4 stroke outboard Yamaha 25Hp
For the next season we are planning to establish a ‘base-line’ in the Northern Cook Islands. This vast marine environment has not been investigated yet.
We are hoping to raise funds for the acquisition and transport of this 47ft trawler that has been refitted in a private yard in Louisiana.
Northern Cook Islands:
Tema Reef (submerged)
Cetacean species known to occur in area:
Common Name (Scientific Name)
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis)
Dwarf minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
Killer whale (Orcinus orca)
Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala)
Peale’s dolphin (Lagenorhynchus )
Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius)
Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris)
Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis/frontalis)
Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris)
Striped dolphin (Stenella attenuata)
Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei)
Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra)
Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus)
Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni)
Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)
Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata)
Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis)
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
Spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata)
Pygmy sperm whale (Stenella attenuata)
Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia simus)
Nan Daeschler Hauser, Cook Islands Whale Research (Chief Scientist)
Ben Vroom, Captain and Engineer
Riley Elliott, Shark Expert
Abigail Robinson, Research Assistant and Drone Operator
Natalie Barefoot, Research Assistant, Environmental and Cetacean Attorney
Travis Horton, Canterbury University, Cook Islands Whale Research/ Science & Research Collaboration
Alyssa Stoller, Cook Islands Whale Research Intern
John Martin, Underwater videographer
Cook Islands Northern Group Expedition
THE SECRET, WONDROUS LIFE OF THE NORTHERN COOK ISLANDS, SOUTH PACIFIC
We are a group of scientists that work for the betterment of the environment, the oceans and ultimately the world. Our proposal is to survey the Northern group of The Cook Islands collecting data on every species of marine mammal, conducting an assessment of marine life, and evaluating the health of the reef life on these six atolls. For the past five years Conservation International has played an integral part, working in conjunction with Cook Islands Whale Research, to create a marine protected area within the EEZ of the Cook Islands. Henry Puna, the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands declared 1.2 million square kilometers as the Cook Islands Marine Park during the Pacific Forum held in Rarotonga in 2012 at a Conservation International dinner. The Northern Group Islanders have showed great disappointment that their islands were not included within the boundaries of this park and are interested in doubling the size of the Cook Islands Marine Park. At 2.4 million square kilometers this would be the largest marine protected area on the planet. We believe that this survey would encourage the Cook Islands Government to consider including this area.
The ultimate time for us to undergo this expedition would be approximately 3 months starting in early July. Our science demands a rigorous work schedule. Marine Biologist, Nan Hauser has conducted research in the Southern Cook Islands for seventeen years with unprecedented data and outstanding results leading to over 44 published papers along with informative reports. Because of the vast differences of the two groups and over two million square kilometers of EEZ, it has been impossible logistically and financially for Nan and her team to reach the northern group. No survey has ever been conducted on the marine mammals in this Northern area made up of six exquisitely beautiful islands and a submerged reef. The Cook Islands is declared a whale sanctuary, a shark sanctuary, and a marine park. Unfortunately we observe the killing of cetaceans, turtles and sharks by illegal fishing vessels and long liners. It has been imperative in the past seventeen years to be the liaison between cetaceans and the local Cook Island’s community. Ultimately through outreach and education, the Cook Island’s people have taken ownership of their whales and now the health of their ocean wanting to be part of this collaborative project with the locals and the scientists.
The Northern Cook Islands is a mysterious, enigmatic, beautiful and alluring part of the South Pacific, which would amaze and intrigue the world.
Through word of mouth, we know that there are many species of dolphins and other unidentified whales: (List attached). It is an especially important time to survey the Northern group Islands due to by-catch from purse seine netting and long lining boats licensed in our EEZ. Another urgent matter includes the proposal of mining Manganese nodules covering the ocean floor five miles down in certain areas.
Projects to include:
~Active acoustic/visual identification of Cetaceans and other Marine Animals, resident or migrant populations, Biology, Education and Culture, Mapping, Strategy and Management, Water Quality, Island Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Passive Acoustics. ~Small Cetacean Survey, Marine Park Management.
~The Health of the Reef. We worked with “Catlin Seaview Survey” last year and filmed a “baseline” video of the reef in Rarotonga. They are affiliated with Google Ocean and it has been a fabulous project (written up in TIME magazine).
~Past satellite tagging migration data and the correlation with seamounts and magnetic anomalies. Not just with our own data but those collected from historic whaling logs.
~Turtles: Work in conjunction with colleague Michael White on the island of Tongareva. We tagged a turtle in Palmerston (Southern Group) in 2000 which migrated to Western Fiji.
~Drones/See videos! An incredible new perspective of land, ocean passes, reefs, drop offs and whales! This is a cutting edge project that has become part of our team protocol. We provide the drones and Abigail the operator!
~The effectiveness of marine protected areas and current conservation policy, currents, seamounts, bathymetry, effects of global climate change, illegal fishing activities, natural and human predation.
~Habitat, genetics, behavior, acoustic data base, stranding records, site fidelity, fishing pod catch, conservation initiatives, education, hunting, cultural issues.
~Underwater imagery of the outside fringing reef and inner lagoon while also mapping the edge of canyons and steep drop offs, to better understand beaked whale and sperm whale feeding habitats.
~Cultural history and different dialect of each island visited.
~Confirm species identity and describe the isolation or connectivity among dolphin communities.
~Fish stocks. Sharks/ tigers, black tips, white tips, oceanic white tips, common thresher, grey sharks, whale shark. (List attached of endangered or vulnerable sp.)
~Collection of skin and bodily fluids of stranded and live animals for DNA analysis
~Genetics & DNA – Collect skin/ tissue and organ samples from both living and dead whales. Heads, ears and eyes are often sent to WHOI for analysis and CT / MRI scanning. Stable Isotopes will be sent to Canterbury University and Univ. of Auckland
~Squid & Sperm Whale Behavior –We find large squid close to the island of Aitutaki (average size: 37.5 pounds). What will we find in the Northern group?
~Outreach and communication, education, consultations, and cultural activities. Ensure widespread support from traditional leaders. This is crucial in Polynesian culture.
~ Blogs for Conservation International, WHOI, Canterbury University, Auckland University, Southern Cross University, Center for Cetacean Research and Cook Islands Whale Research would be written daily.
2016 and 2017 are the “Year of the Whale” in the South Pacific! Let’s get a head start and an excellent quality baseline of one of the most remote areas of the enormous Pacific.
The Centre for Cetacean Research and Conservation (CCRC) was founded in 1991 to promote whale research and conservation. It is an NGO, 501C3 in the US and incorporated as a non-profit in the Cook Islands. Nan is the President and chief scientist for Cook Islands Whale Research, on the executive committee of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, has collaborated on science projects with WHOI and is a Marine Fellow for Conservation International. She is also an adjunct Professor at Auckland University (AUT).
Globally threatened marine species that have been identified to be present in the Cook Islands include:
Black Saddled Coral Grouper
Common Thresher Shark
Oceanic Whitetip Shark
Giant reef ray
The following threatened coral species are found in the Cook Islands