About HWRF


What we do:

The Hawaii Whale Research Foundation is a small nonprofit group of dedicated volunteers conducting field research on marine mammals with emphasis on humpback whale social affiliation, behavior and communication in the belief that if the needs of these magnificent animals are more fully understood we may better offer recommendations that protect and preserve them. Five winter months of data collection and photo-documentation in Hawaii are augmented by year-round analysis, frequent scientific publications, public service seminars and educational presentations. We also conduct surveys in Alaska when funding opportunities are available.

Becoming involved in the research:

First, as indicated above, there are no paid positions in the Hawaii Whale Research Foundation. All officers, investigators, associates, and assistants work on a strictly volunteer basis. However, we expect all volunteers to treat their participation as if it were a job. In other words, there are time and assignment commitments. When you are scheduled to work on the research boat or handle an on-shore assignment, we expect you to be present and on time. Other “team members” are dependent up[on you being present to do your job. This is not a “free-time” task that you accept when convenient. You are also expected to do the task assigned by the principal or co-investigator (or driver/captain for boat operations) and not “trade off” for something that you would rather do. If you meet these standards, contact us to learn more.

Becoming a supporter:

When the Hawaii Whale Research Foundation was incorporated, there were no provisions for “memberships” in the traditional sense. So we do not have “levels of membership” to offer in order to raise funding for our research and educational projects. However, we do need your financial support. The Hawaii Whale Research Foundation is a 501.c.3 tax exempt scientific research organization. Consequently, all donations and gifts are fully tax deductible.

Requests for Information:

Since this site was first published on the web, we have received thousands of questions from students, naturalists, filmmakers and other professionals worldwide regarding the natural history of cetaceans. Regrettably, more often than not, we can no longer guarantee a personal response to questions sent by email, as it simply takes too much time to answer questions properly and we do not have staff to do so. In particular, we can not respond to emails such as "Tell me everything you can about whales..." or "I have a report due on Friday and need you to answer the following questions..."

If you have a bona fide specific question we will consider it and answer it as we have time. Furthermore, while the internet and web are powerful avenues of communication, it is our strong opinion that students rely excessively on the web for their research needs. While the web offers access to a wealth of information, the quality of this information is occasionally suspect. There are no adequate controls to distinguish reliable findings with political/environmental/social propaganda!

Proper academic research must begin at the library -- i.e., with BOOKS and JOURNALS. Good research requires consultation of peer-reviewed scientific papers, lay articles in the popular press, and consideration of encyclopedia, guide and text books. The vast majority of published scientific and academic reports is still available only in printed form, and although the content of the web is growing quickly, these reports may never be available online except in the form of abstracts.

Obviously, we encourage you to review the educational materials contained in this web sitee as well as those of other legitimate research/educational organizations.

Requests for images and video:

All still images and video captured by HWRF volunteers have been taken under NOAA-Fisheries research permits (and in Hawaii under Department of Land and Natural Resources permits). These permits restrict the use of these images without a formal request to NOAA-Fisheries for review by the permit’s principal investigator and their approval. The use of these materials without approval can result in federal prosecution and steep fines (as well as possible imprisonment).

We do not maintain a library of visual materials designed for public/personal distribution. Consequently, we cannot honor requests for a “personal picture” of a whale or dolphin.

Requests for licenses to use still images, video, or projects requiring these materials (such as documentaries, natural history articles, etc.)  should be addressed to Jill Mickelsen must spell out (1) the nature of the requested subject matter, (2) how the material will be used, (3) the publication or venue in which it will appear, (4) the intended audience, and (5) the proposed dates for the project. Such projects require a mutually agreeable contract. Once this has been obtained, HWRF will coordinate the federal approval review process.