HICEAS: Hawaiian Islands Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey





The Hawaiian Islands Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey, called HICEAS, is a marine mammal assessment survey of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Hawaiian waters out to a distance of approximately 200 nautical miles. The primary goal of this expedition is to estimate the abundance and distribution of cetaceans within the Hawaiian EEZ using visual and acoustic methods. Concurrent with the abundance estimation, the expedition conducts an ecosystem assessment of the habitat in which the cetaceans are found.


The primary objectives of HICEAS are to:
· Estimate the abundance and to understand the distribution of dolphins and whales in the Hawaiian EEZ using visual and acoustic survey methods
· Characterize the pelagic ecosystem within the study area, through the collection of underway and station-based physical and biological oceanographic sampling, studies of mid-trophic level organisms and research on other apex predators (seabirds).
· Conduct biopsy sampling and photo-identification studies of cetacean species of special interest.

The cetacean assessment survey is necessary to evaluate the status of the cetaceans within the EEZ of the Hawaiian Islands for Marine Mammal Stock Assessments as mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. This survey provides new abundance estimates that allow NMFS to meet its MMPA mandate to write Stock Assessment Reports for US EEZ waters. Data on sperm whales and other endangered large whales will contribute to ESA Status Reviews for those species. Identification of possible insular endemic populations of cetaceans will contribute to their conservation and preservation.

The HICEAS project is in the process of establishing a long-term data series; the original survey took place in 2002; the 2010 survey structure has the cruise being repeated periodically.

SWFSC Chief Scientist: Jay Barlow

PIFSC Chief Scientist: Erin Oleson

Survey Coordinator: Annette Henry 


Last modified: 12/24/2014