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Meet the scientists

Background - 8 January, 2009

Nan Hauser

Nan Hauser serves as the President and Director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation. She resides in the Takuvaine Valley in the Cook Islands, South Pacific where she conducts her whale research. Nan became involved in marine mammal research, education, rescue and emergency care after working as a registered nurse for both humans and animals for almost 3 decades.

In 1990 she became involved with the Whale Conservation Institute's cetacean research expeditions aboard the R/V Odyssey collecting scientific data on whales and dolphins around the world. As Founder and Director of the New England Dolphin Outreach Project she has taught on a global level for the Dolphin Research Center, the Whale Conservation Institute and many other non-profit organizations.

She has served on the Board of Directors for the Gulf of Maine Aquarium, Chewonkie Environmental Foundation and the National Marine Educators Association.  As Production Researcher for dolphin films on Discovery Channel and National Geographic, her work has taken her worldwide

For the past 11 years she has also included the Bahamas as a study sight for beaked whales, dolphins, sperm whales and a wide variety of other species. This is where her team has significantly filmed the Mesoplodon densirostris, a rare beaked whale, underwater for the first time in history. She has taken thousands of photographs of beaked whales, which have yielded unprecedented behavioral information on these rarely observed and barely understood animals.

Nan has initiated the study of an unknown population of Humpback Whales in a remote corner of the Cook Islands, South Pacific, including photo identification, bioacoustics, genetics, toxicology, behavior, and underwater filming. Her team's work and footage have contributed to films on marine mammals for the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Green Space Productions and Nature Conservation Films. She is the Director of Cook Islands Whale Research and was a key player in the creation of a 2 million square kilometer whale sanctuary in the waters of the Cook Islands.

The South Pacific Whale Research Consortium is made up of a group of whale researchers from Tahiti, Cook Islands, Tonga, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Australia. The group compares their data to find answers concerning migration, population identity and genetic diversity, as well as preparing scientific papers for IWC and scientific journals. Nan serves on the Executive Committee, as a scientific contributor and as Secretary of the Consortium.

Nan is Co-founder and Director of The Cook Islands Whale Education Center where she is has built exhibits and developed an educational curriculum for the local people and visiting tourists of the Cook Islands. Her philosophy is "Why learn it if you can't share it?"

Nan is a Ph.D. candidate at Southern Cross University, Australia.


Claire Garrigue

Claire Garrigue is an honorary research fellow at the School of Biological Sciences in Auckland University, Laboratory of Ecology and Evolution, studying the genetic structure of the humpback whale population of New Caledonia.

Claire has lived in the South Pacific since 1983. She has been employed as a marine biologist at IRD (Institut pour la Recherche et le Développement) since 1989. She was involved in different programs studying the benthic ecosystem of coral areas, based in Noumea (New Caledonia).

Founder and scientific advisor of Opération Cétacés, an NGO that was created in 1994, Claire has developed a research programme on marine mammals in New Caledonia. The main focus is on humpback whales that winter in the lagoons of New Caledonia, but other cetaceans are also studied. Every year she manages a three-month field programme, coordinating a team of four to five field assistants. Claire has represented New Caledonia at the IWC in 2000 (Adelaide), and at the SPREP meeting in Apia 2001 (Samoa).

She has also been involved in marine mammals research in Hawaii (January 1996) and in Canada (June 1993). Claire spends part of her time creating projects on marine mammals to educate school children and whale watchers about the conservation of marine mammals, and has developed presentations and leaflets. She has written a book on humpback whales in New Caledonia.

Claire has a PhD in Plant Biology and Physiology from the University of Montpellier, France.