East Coast Marine Mammal Health Assessment

Michael Moore, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Abstract

This project will consist of two parts. Part 1 will enable health mapping of marine mammals of the US East Coast in collaboration with the NOAA Marine Mammal Health and Stranding
Response Program. It will focus on populations impacted by Unusual Mortality Events and in areas of high concern and assist with integrating health assessment protocols for population studies of east coast stocks conducted by NMFS biologists. It will also assist on-site coordinators with data compilation and reports in order to enhance the ability to monitor and predict national marine mammal health trends. This project will improve communication and assessment of east coast marine mammal health and disease within the overall network; help to support the Office of Protected Resources in the development of research projects aimed atfurthering novel health assessment techniques; and coordinate with regional stranding coordinators and representatives of the Integrated Ocean Observing system to incorporate marine mammal health into the observing system. Part 2 will enable response to reports of live or dead stranded large whales, especially right whales, by providing stranding response-related investigations, including, but not limited to, planning, euthanasia, carcass retrieval and/or towing, necropsy, sample collection, distribution, and analysis, and necropsy report writing. The investigations shall be consistent with those outlined in the “Right Whale Necropsy Protocol” and NOAA Fisheries Service final response protocols/Standard Operating Procedures