FUTURE PROJECTS

Additional info about the vessel:
46’7″x15’4″x8’7″(LxBxD)
41GRT

Two 240Hp Yanmar engines

Chart plotter
Furuno Fish finder
2 Furuno multi
Benmar autopilot
3 Standard horizon VHF
Ambient weather station
3 inverters 3000VA
Flagship Marine aircon
iCom VHF/SSB
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.

future projects

"THE CIGANO"

Northern Cook Islands:

Manihiki

Nassau

Penrhyn Island

Pukapuka

Rakahanga

Suwarrow 

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)

THE TEAM:

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.

~Large predators 

~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:

Cheilinus undulates

Humphead Wrasse

Endangered

Epinephelus lanceolatus

Giant Grouper

Vulnerable

Plectropomus laevis

Black Saddled Coral Grouper

Vulnerable

Eretmochelys imbricata

Hawksbill Turtle

Critically endangered

Chelonia mydas

Green Turtle

Endangered

Caretta caretta

Loggerhead Turtle

Endangered

Balaenoptera musculus

Blue Whale

Endangered

 

Balaenoptera borealis

Sei Whale

Endangered

Physeter macrocephalus

Sperm Whale

Vulnerable

Isurus oxyrinchus

Shortfin Mako

Vulnerable

Alopias vulpinus

Common Thresher Shark

Vulnerable

Carcharhinus longimanus

Oceanic Whitetip Shark

Vulnerable

Rhincodon typus

Whale shark

Vulnerable

Taeniura meyeni

Giant reef ray

Vulnerable

Thunnus obesus

Big-eye Tuna

Vulnerable

The following threatened coral species are found in the Cook Islands

Acropora anthocercis

Vulnerable

Acropora globiceps

Vulnerable

Acropora horrida

Vulnerable

Acropora microclados

Vulnerable

Acropora palmerae

Vulnerable

Acropora paniculata

Vulnerable

Acropora polystoma

Vulnerable

Acropora retusa

Vulnerable

Acropora speciosa

Vulnerable

Acropora striata

Vulnerable

Acropora vaughani

Vulnerable

Acropora anthocercis

Vulnerable

Alveopora allingi

Vulnerable

Alveopora verrilliana

Vulnerable

Leptoseris incrustans

Vulnerable

Montipora angulata

Vulnerable

Montipora australiensis

Vulnerable

Montipora calcarea

Vulnerable

Montipora caliculata

Vulnerable

Montipora lobulata

Vulnerable

Pavona bipartita

Vulnerable

Pavona cactus

Vulnerable

Pavona decussata

Vulnerable

Pocillopora elegans

Vulnerable

Turbinaria mesenterina

 

Vulnerable

 

“Be Curious, Collaborate and Conserve. 

This work is for the future of the Cook Islands Marine Park (Marae Moana), Save Our Oceans Charitable Trust, and the Oceanscape Project.
Vimeo link: 
vimeo.com/46707128    
vimeo.com/111787192
vimeo.com/104158286
Many other videos can be found at Vimeo: Conservation International
 
We would involve the Cook Islands Government which would be an enormous contribution to the expansion of the marine park.
A possible collaboration with Air Rarotonga (Ewan Smith)to fly us from the Northern Group to the Southern group if necessary per each scientist’s necessary schedule.
Nan is working  with the Minister of Marine Resources (Ben Ponia) privately to implement education and disentanglement with the Chinese Purse Seiners and Longlining Fishing boats up in the Northern Group. 
An environmental impact statement is necessary for the interest in the mining of Manganese Nodules in the EEZ of the Cook Islands. These areas of interest that are five miles deep are unstudied at this time. (Paul Lynch)
We are certainly guaranteed animals up North since I get constant reports from the locals, the fishermen, the pearl farmers and the pilots. 
After having been in the Cooks for the past 17 years , they will be thrilled to let us in on their local knowledge. ( the best kind!) Lots of good connections up North with people that I have met when they have come down to Rarotonga.
After so many years of projects and research expeditions, we understand what a privilege that this trip would be. If we can make it happen, it would be so amazing for the future of the Cook Islands, the Marine Park and the Oceanscape! ( vimeo link:    https://vimeo.com/46707128        )
For fun;   
vimeo.com/111787192
vimeo.com/104158286
This all  fits in beautifully with everything  that we want / need / and should do while in the Northern Cooks. All cutting edge data and technology at it’s best.
An important point is that we have had whale shootings and beatings, illegal fishing, pirate longliners, etc  and the future of “Mining of Manganese Nodules” in our EEZ 5 miles down on the surface of the ocean floor.
We need to hold these Pacific Forum leaders responsible for walking their talk about being environmentalists and actually creating these Marine Protected Areas:
(the Oceanscape https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqzVDf1K_IA)
and not just declaring them without putting it through legislation.
With a scientific survey and the media exposure of some of the last pristine places in the planet, we want to encourage the very needed protection. 
We will determine the element of sewage, pollutants, industrial and agricultural pollutants, vast amount of garbage and plastics.
Although this may seem like a local , polynesian project, it will truly become global. Good intentions are contagious! Especially across Oceania. 
If we can get this survey under our belt it would promote new thoughts and initiatives. Let’s remind them what the focus is.
We plan to use social media such as ( website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc ) and blog everyday. We have 2  websites that we are currently updating.
We  would organize all of the tax deductable funding through:
Center for Cetacean Research & Conservation which is a United States 501c3 NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION.