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Top international researchers to discuss critical issues in whale research at Lahaina event

By Staff | Feb 5, 2015

A close-up of a curious humpback whale. PHOTO BY FLIP NICKLIN/MINDEN PICTURES (NMFS Permit #987).

LAHAINA – Curiosity, connection and communication will come together over President’s Day weekend, as the public is invited to gather in the humpback whale breeding capital of the world to network and learn from world-renowned experts in whale research.

Leading scientists, photographers and conservationists are coming to West Maui for the ninth annual Whale Tales, a four-day educational and fundraising event hosted by international whale research organization Whale Trust Maui.

This year’s event will highlight the role that technology plays in advancing research.

Guests are entertained by presentations, receptions and guided whale watching tours with the experts. Presentations include some of the latest findings on social, behavioral and conservation topics related to whales and their natural environment.

Hear directly from the source on recent discoveries and view stunning underwater photography and video of whales in their natural environment.

Mother and calf humpback whales swim together off the coast of Maui. PHOTO BY FLIP NICKLIN/MINDEN PICTURES (NMFS Permit #753).

Join the experts on the water with the whales during the benefit whale watching cruises hosted throughout the weekend.

“Whales bring thousands of people and millions of dollars to the economy in Hawaii alone each year,” said Whale Trust Maui Executive Director Meagan Jones.

“Whale Tales gives residents and visitors the unique opportunity to experience whales first hand with the experts – the people that have dedicated their lives to studying them – and to give back in meaningful ways by supporting the research community to continue their important work.”

Participants in Whale Tales 2015 include Dr. Bruce Mate, a pioneer in satellite tagging of whales and migration patterns; Ken Balcomb, a foremost authority of the devastation that underwater sonar testing causes for whales and whose findings inspired the recent book “War of the Whales;” Bryan Skerry, a National Geographic photographer who specializes in photographing marine wildlife and underwater environments; travel pioneer Sven-Olof Lindblad, founder and president of Lindblad Expeditions; and in honor of Valentine’s Day, National Geographic contributing photographer Flip Nicklin and underwater cinematographer Jason Sturgis showing some of their favorite underwater footage of dancing humpbacks.

A special showing of the new IMAX movie “Humpback Whales 3D” will premier, starring Whale Trust co-founders Jones and Jim Darling, Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and Fred Sharpe of Alaska Whale Foundation.

Marine life photographer Marty Wolff and famous marine artist Wyland’s nonprofit organization Ocean Artists Society will partner to present “Whales and Art.” Again this year, a new custom piece designed by bronze artist Randy Puckett will be released at the event as a benefit for Whale Tales’ beneficiaries.

Additional speakers for Whale Tales 2015 include marine life cinematographer Paul Atkins, Keith Scholey from BBC and Silverback Films, Dr. Jonathon Stern from the Golden Gate Research Project, Dr. Mark Lammers of the Oceanwide Science Institute, Christine Gabriele with the Hawaii Marine Mammal Consortium, Lyman, Jones and Darling, with more presenters to be announced soon.

The event will open on Friday, Feb. 13, with an Opening Reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Pioneer Inn Courtyard.

Nicklin and Sturgis will give a presentation under the stars at 7 p.m. at the Baldwin Home at the corner of Front and Dickenson streets.

Free and open to the public, presentations are slated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 14-15, at The Maui Theatre in Old Lahaina Center.

Benefit whale watches with the experts will be held throughout the weekend, with morning whale watches daily and excursions all day on Monday, Feb. 16, out of Lahaina Harbor.

Whale Trust Maui is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to whale research and education.

Funds raised at Whale Tales support whale research efforts in the Hawaiian Islands. This annual event has raised over $360,000 for whale research on Maui since its debut in 2006.

The ninth annual Whale Tales is made possible through the generous support of many individuals and organizations. This year’s major event sponsors are Makana Aloha Foundation and Deborah and Michael Rybak.

For more information, visit www.whaletrust.org/what-we-do/marine-education-and-conservation/whale-tales/.

Whale Tales 2015 sponsorship packages and VIP passes, which include premium seating and private reception tickets, can be purchased in advance at WhaleTrustMaui.org or by calling (808) 572-5700. You can also “like” Whale Trust Maui on Facebook for regular event updates.