Saving Our Oceans Whales 
Nan Hauser the President and Director of the Centre for Cetacean Research and Conservation. Her home base is in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, where she is the Principal Investigator for the Cook Islands Whale Research Project and Director of the Cook Islands Whale & Wildlife Centre. 


Nan’s research includes population identity, Photo ID, acoustics, genetics, surface & underwater behaviour, navigation and migration of cetaceans. Her satellite tag work includes results on how whales migrate over long distances using linear constant course segments.

GOALS: Acoustic/Visual Identification of Cetaceans and other Marine Animals, Migration & Navigation / SATELLITE TAGGING, Biology, Education and Culture, Mapping, Strategy and Management, Water Chemistry, Island Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Acoustics, Small Cetacean Survey (aPod), Marine Park Management, Conservation International “Oceanscape”.

WHERE: The Cook Islands (Southern and Northern groups), Kiribati (The Line and Pheonix Islands) with a strong focus on Kiritimati 

IMPACT: Surveys of the Cook Islands and Kiribati are incomplete and much remains a mystery due to the remoteness of these small island nations. Throughout these islands we have strong evidence of diversity and abundance of sea life including dolphins and whales



Creating Marine Parks
Raised in Auckland, Iro had a successful career in rugby, playing for clubs in England, Australia and New Zealand. But off the rugby field, Iro developed a strong passion for the ocean starting as a young boy, when his family began visiting relatives in the Cook Islands on school holidays. He immediately fell in love with the islands’ blue lagoons and stunning beaches.

Kevin Iro is the brainchild behind the creation of one of the largest marine protected areas in the Pacific, which has raised the bar for marine conservation efforts across the globe.

The idea for the creation of a new marine protected area was born out of conversations Iro had with friends — particularly Robin Grant, an accommodation owner who suggested using the power of the Internet to get people involved in the park design process. They envisioned a park in which all Cook Islanders — even those living abroad — could have a say in how local marine resources are managed. While some parts of the park would be left completely untouched, others would be zoned for economic activities like sustainable fishing and dive tourism.



Reef Restoration Project
The Rarotonga Ngati Raina tribe and Tamakeu recognise that we have always had a responsibility to the marine environment especially the protection and preservation of Rarotonga’s lagoon ecosystem. In an exciting project the tribes have embarked on a long term reef restoration project within the Tikioki reserve area.

The goal of a reef restoration project is to bring a dead or dying reef back to as close to its original, healthy state as possible. To do this, live corals and clams are collected from other healthy donor sites or from places they have been broken off by storms and implanted in the restoration site. The live corals and clams are implanted onto the reef structure (rocks and dead coral) using epoxy, cement or wire and over time will attach themselves to the rock.

Because corals and clams form the backbone of the reef, if they are healthy then fish and other marine life will be attracted to them. Over time, once the corals and clams become settled, they can begin to reproduce and allow the healthy reef to spread and grow.

The introduction of a traditional Ra’ui is the traditional environment protection system that involves traditional leaders banning the harvest of marine resources in designated areas. Traditionally it was imposed by the chief of the tribe banning the harvesting of food resources of a set period of time to enable stocks to increase.

The main purpose of the ra’ui is to help protect the marine environment and to contribute towards an increase in marine life for present and future generations. There are 12 ra’ui areas in Rarotonga including in Tikioki, where the tribes have set up their marine site. Some ra’ui are short-term and allow harvesting on a rotational basis, others are long term. Parts of Tikioki ra’ui are now permanently reserved.



Protecting Sharks protects our Ocean ecosystem
Jessica Cramp is a scientist-turned-activist who’s diligently working in the Cook Islands to promote the conservation of her favorite apex predator. “I call sharks the ‘gateway drug’ for ocean issues, as studying the apex predators gives insight into fisheries management, underwater food webs and coral reefs. Sharks allow me to combine my passion for the sea in an arena where I can make a contribution, and it’s rewarding to have a role in propagating a scientific, social, and cultural case for their protection.”

She helped establish the Cook Islands Shark Sanctuary December 12, 2012 based on arguments for scientific, political and socio-economic benefit. This study aims to measure its “success” on these fronts. While the shark sanctuary was adopted to reduce mortality of sharks, it was supported for reasons spanning economic incentive from fines, ease of enforcement, political will and it was grounded in the cultural consideration of sharks as guardians.

This project will address the definition of “success” with regard to shark sanctuaries and evaluate the effectiveness of spatial zones in the conservation of wide-ranging animals. It will also identify policy gaps and offer amendments benefitting local, national and regional shark conservation and management measures in their collective efforts to reduce shark mortality across the globe.

Research for Save Our Oceans will include identifying key species habitats and mapping home ranges to the spatial boundaries of the shark sanctuary (entire EEZ of Cook Islands), satellite tagging studies on 2 atolls in the northern Cook Islands, Manihiki and Penrhyn. While on island, the project will work with local fishermen as guides and local students and island councils to confirm the importance of sharks in oceans and coral reef ecosystems, the value of the proposed research and exchange information and general knowledge of conservation priorities in the Cook Islands.



Cultivating Reef Animals
Tom Bowling has set up a successful aquaculture venture in Palau with ground-breaking results. Tom has had aquariums since childhood. Whilst studying Marine Science and Aquaculture in Australia, Tom witnessed some the unnecessary death of hundreds of beautiful wild -caught aquarium fish. This was the moment when he realized his career interest, too supplement wild caught Aquarium fish with sustainably cultured aquarium species.

He has owned several businesses in Australia including Ocean Oddities, which was one of the first commercial seahorse farms in Australia. Tom then operated MIMF (ORA) in the Marshall Islands before deciding to start a family in Australia. That only lasted a few years before the call of the Pacific brought him back.

Tom moved to Palau with his family in order to set up Biota Aquaculture. Starting biota has allowed him to fuse his background in Marine Science and Commercial Diving. As a result, He has managed to successfully cultivate four new species of fish among many other hard to breed species.

Currently Biota Palau are actively releasing Rabbit fish in the local water ways. This year alone we have released 5 million juvenile fish in the local area, releasing the rabbit fish makes sense as a good starter species as the locals eat them, they are fast growing and the results should be measurable very fast.

Our longer term vision is to use this technology to breed threatened and endangered species such as the Bumped Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum). We have already shown this to be possible and the possibility of raising these fish to restock reefs where they are now extinct is very real. These fish create more than 5 tonnes of sand per adult per year! This sand then washes onto the reef and actively helps in maintaining erosion and reef diversity.



Mini subs for Ocean exploration
Making the world beneath the waves as accessible as a car ride is a pathway to greater exploration and understanding of our oceans through a mini-sub project with Nemo 3 Peace, peace at last that there is only one place in the world: underwater.

The depths of the seas and oceans, which cover about 70% of the earth's surface, are the last remaining areas in which one can retreat. Less than 0.1% of the inhabitants of the earth have ever driven a submarine. The number of those who have controlled a submarine is statistically hardly detectable.

We are making the utopia of the 19th century come true. With us everyone can be Captain Nemo for a while.



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