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 remote research base in the remote South Pacific island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, she studies the humpback and other whale species, including their populations and the migratory habits they follow for food, mating and calving.
From her base in Rarotonga, Nan serves as president and director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, a nonprofit organization she co-founded to aid in the worldwide conservation of cetaceans (the family of marine mammals that include whales, dolphins and porpoises). The organization’s headquarters in the U.S. is located in Brunswick, Maine. She is also Principal Investigator of the Cook Islands Whale Research Project, and Director of the Cook Islands Whale Research & Education Centre. “Humpbacks are the most studied of the large whales, yet much of their basic biology remains unknown,” says Nan. In addition, she says, “there are very few estimates of humpback population parameters, and none whatsoever for the central South Pacific until recent studies.”
To gather more vital information on these creatures, Nan has been “satellite tagging” humpback whales in the Cook Islands for the past couple of years with very interesting results leading to bigger questions about how whales migrate. Satellite tagging involves tagging whales with a sensitive mini device which allows scientists to track these animals in order to gather data on their movements, habitat use and population structure.
Why do you think it’s important to study and save the world’s whale populations?
Read more about Nan Hauser here.
And check out these short videos on Jan and her work.