Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Monitoring Project

Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks (SPLASH)

Principal Investigator(s)

  • John Calambokidis
    Cascadia Research Collective
  • David Mattila
    Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
Start Date: January 01, 2004

SPLASH will use consistent sampling efforts in feeding and wintering areas of humpbacks within the North Pacific. Field techniques such as photo-identification and biopsy tissue sampling will be the primary field methods employed.

The objectives of SPLASH are:

  • Obtain a current estimate of overall abundance of humpback whales within the North Pacific;

  • Provide an understanding of population structure and migratory interchange using genetic markers and photo-identification;

  • Estimate the abundance of specific humpback whale wintering and feeding areas to better serve management needs;

  • Provide information on trends in abundance;

  • Improve understanding of population parameters including reproductive, mortality, and pregnancy rates as well as age/sex structure;

  • Describe the influence of population processes on genetic diversity and exchange;

  • Identify habitat and characterize use; and

  • Identify human impacts (entanglement, toxicology, etc.).

The steering committee for SPLASH includes the following organizations: Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA; National Marine Mammal Laboratory, NOAA; National Marine Sanctuary Program, NOAA; National Park Service, Department of Interior; Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans; and Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, Mexico; and several academic and private institutions.

SPLASH has received funding from the National Marine Fisheries Service, National Marine Sanctuary Program, Marine Mammal Commission, as well as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and other private foundations.

Summary to Date

SPLASH is a three winter, two summer program effort with a proposed start time of January 2004. The SPLASH program will run through the summer of 2006. Results will be posted on the SPLASH and SIMoN websites as they become available.

Study Parameters

  • Abundance
  • Stock assessment
  • Genetics
  • Mortality
  • Reproduction
  • Migration/movement patterns
  • Habitat association

Study Methods


Biopsy Sampling

Human Impacts

Figures and Images

SPLASH sampling techniques.

Health and human impacts on whales.

2004 results.

SPLASH steering committee.