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‘Weekend with the Experts’ to feature free presentations by marine researchers

By Staff | Feb 2, 2012

KAANAPALI – As part of the Maui Whale Festival, a group of noted researchers, scientists, marine experts and photographers from across the U.S. will share their work and their latest discoveries about whales and the ocean during “Weekend with the Experts.”

The three-day event begins on Friday, Feb. 10, and continues through Sunday, Feb. 12.

Hosted by Pacific Whale Foundation with support from Expedia Local Expert, “Weekend with the Experts” includes two evenings of free talks, slideshows and video presentations, as well as special daytime whalewatch cruises led by the experts.

The weekend begins on Friday, Feb. 10, with multimedia presentations on the topic of “Swimming In Trash: Marine Debris and Its Effect on Whales.”

Free and open to all, the presentations will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali.

The Friday night presentations will include scientific updates on the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and tsunami debris heading for Hawaii. It will also include information on the impacts of marine debris on marine mammals and a presentation on why Hawaii’s underwater world is so unique – and so worthy of protection.

Presenters include Bill Francis, president of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation; Dr. Jan Hafner of the International Pacific Research Center, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, who will speak on tracking the Japanese tsunami debris; Ed Lyman, Marine Mammal Response manager at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary; and David Fleetham, a marine wildlife photographer whose photos have been published around the globe, with more than 100 magazine covers to date.

“Weekend with the Experts” continues on Saturday, Feb. 11, with additional multimedia presentations based on a theme, “In the Presence of Giants,” at The Westin Maui from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

The evening will include presentations on the latest discoveries about whale social sounds and communication, the impacts of man-made noise on whales, information on what science is showing about the impacts of whale watching (on humans and whales), and results from an ongoing research study to prevent vessel-whale collisions in Maui County.

There will also be a photo presentation showcasing dramatic underwater and above-water photos of humpback whales in the South Pacific.

Presenters on Saturday evening will include Dr. Carole Carlson, director of research and education for the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, adjunct scientist at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and research associate at College of the Atlantic, who has spent more than 30 years studying large cetaceans and is an acknowledged expert on photo-identification techniques, humpback whales and whale watching; Dr. Alison Stimpert, a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the Oceanography Department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, who will speak on the rich behavioral and acoustic repertoire of humpback whales underwater and her ongoing investigations into the impact of anthropogenic sound on the social behavior and foraging ecology of cetaceans; Dr. Daniela Maldini, chief scientist at Pacific Whale Foundation, who leads several research studies – including PWF’s work to prevent vessel-whale collisions in Hawaii – by analyzing humpback whale surprise encounters and vessel near misses; and Douglas J. Hoffman, a whale and wildlife photographer who is well-known for his fine art photographs of humpback whales.

The public is invited, and admission is free to Saturday evening’s presentations. Reservations are not required but are suggested; call PWF at 249-8811, extension 1, to register.

On Feb. 11 and 12, there will be opportunities to go whale watching with the experts and presenters from the evening presentations. The cruises depart from Lahaina. For reservations, visit www.pacificwhale.org or call 249-8811, extension 1.

The Maui Whale Festival is a six-month series of events honoring the humpback whales that come to Maui each winter to mate, give birth and care for the next generation of whales.

The festival is presented by Pacific Whale Foundation with support from Expedia Local Expert. To learn more, visit www.mauiwhalefestival.org or call 249-8811, extension 1.