To better understand how wildlife and humans use the protected bays, underwater recording devices have been deployed to Maui and Lanai to record the sounds of marine mammals and boats.
The devices were deployed by a coalition of conservation groups partnering with government agencies to learn how to better protect marine life in the Honolua-Mokule’ia and Manele-Hulopo’e Marine Conservation Districts ( MLCD).
“These areas are home to some of Hawaii’s most exceptional marine life, including dolphins, manta rays, turtles and coral reefs teeming with life,” said Emily Fielding, Maui Marine program director for TNC.
“Because there were so few tourists when the Ecological Acoustic Recorders, or EARs, were initially deployed, we will have a unique opportunity to observe if and how the behavior of spinner dolphins and other marine life is changing. when visitors return to these areas once the data is retrieved and analyzed.
The EARs will collect data over the next year and provide a better understanding of when dolphins enter MLCDs, how long they stay during daytime rest periods, whether their presence is greater or lesser over time, and how they occur. human activities like snorkeling and boating can change their behavior.
This information will help marine resource managers develop targeted management strategies to minimize pressures on dolphins and other marine life.
“We are looking to better understand how long-beaked dolphins respond to human use in these MLCDs, so that we can ensure that dolphins have the time and space they need to survive and thrive in the waters. from Maui. “ said Russell Sparks, a Maui biologist in the state’s Department of Lands and Natural Resources in the State’s Aquatic Resources Division (DLNR-DAR).
The project is the result of a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, the National Marine Humpback Whale Sanctuary of the Hawaiian Islands, the DLNR-DAR, the Oceanwide Science Institute and the Hawaiian Association for Marine Education and Research, Pulama Lanai.
Over the past decade, TNC has worked with DAR and local community partners to develop Conservation Action Plans (CAPs) for six existing marine conservation areas across Maui Nui to identify natural resources, threats and solutions to help guide effective ocean management.
The CAP teams for the Maui and Lanai MLCDs have prioritized the management of protected species and the provision of safe places for the spinner dolphins to rest and play undisturbed.
“We are delighted to partner with TNC and DAR to collect this valuable data using remote passive technology,” said Allen Tom, superintendent of the Hawaiian Islands National Humpback Whale Sanctuary.
“This project has global implications for the management of marine protected areas, and it takes the efforts of federal, state and local partners to move a project like this forward. “