AR-News: (US) HI: Adam Pack defends KBMML

cathy goeggel selkie at
Wed Mar 10 04:16:48 EST 2004


                        Honoring one dolphin's legacy

                        Early in the morning of Feb. 24 Hiapo, our male
dolphin, passed away. His death was unexpected and the staff, students and
friends of the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory are deeply grieved and
mourning the loss of their collaborator and companion.

                        After the earlier passing of 27-year-old dolphins
Akeakamai and Phoenix from cancer (both had been with the lab for 25 years)
the lab's plan was to find Hiapo a temporary home at another facility. This
plan would allow Hiapo to have new dolphin companions while the lab's
nonprofit arm, the Dolphin Institute, created a new and expanded habitat and
research and education facility.

                        Unfortunately, during this transition period the
University of Hawai'i administration decided to replace Hiapo's closest
human companions (our staff) and his familiar routines and tasks with their
own unfamiliar staff and training regimen. Having been associated with the
lab since 1983, I knew and worked with Hiapo for most of his years.

                        The university's actions distressed me and my staff,
and I can only imagine how it was for Hiapo. Although filled with grief and
working to move the lab forward, I am left to address the comments of Cathy
Goeggel in The Advertiser's Feb. 27 article "Lab under fire after latest
dolphin death." Goeggel, who is closely associated with those individuals
who, in 1977, stole our dolphins Puka and Kea and released them into the
wild where they met certain death, unjustly smears the laboratory's name and

                        The truth is that the lab, under the direction of
Dr. Louis Herman, has an unparalleled record of accomplishment in scientific
studies of dolphin sensory perception, cognition, and communication. The lab
has produced over 80 journal articles, books, book chapters, masters theses,
and doctoral dissertations on dolphins and another 60 scientific articles on
humpback whales.

                        This productivity has earned the laboratory a
world-renowned reputation of excellence in the scientific community. In
addition, scores of television documentaries by National Geographic, NOVA
and the BBC; articles in magazines such as National Wildlife and Time; and
two IMAX films have heightened the public's awareness, respect and
understanding of dolphins as well as the challenges dolphins face in the
wild at the hands of humans.

                        Finally, thousands of elementary and high school
students in Hawai'i have learned about and fallen in love with dolphins and
whales through the laboratory's marine mammal outreach programs. In short,
the lab has contributed a great deal to the understanding of dolphins and
has highlighted Hawai'i as a place of excellence for the study of marine
mammal science.

                        The passing of Akeakamai, Phoenix and Hiapo is
tragic and has affected thousands of individuals locally, on the Mainland
and abroad who came to the lab over the years to work with these
extraordinary dolphins. Hawai'i should be proud of its laboratory and should
honor the incredible legacy of knowledge that Akeakamai, Phoenix and Hiapo
have left the world community. Let the record speak for itself.

                        Adam A. Pack, Ph.D.
                        Associate director, Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal
                        Vice president, The Dolphin Institute

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