Mapping Marine Mammals along the Northern California Current
Project Status: This project began in June 2014 and is projected to be completed in September 2015
Coastal zone managers need maps of marine mammal populations to improve their ability to identify and mitigate impacts to marine mammals from human activities, and to identify critical wildlife habitats. We are generating maps of marine mammals along the Pacific Coast of Washington to improve assessments and management of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
Why We Care
As the human population expands in coastal areas and distribution of pathogens and hosts shifts with changing climate, the risk for emerging hazards in the marine environment increases and marine wildlife may be negatively affected. Coastal zone managers need maps of marine mammal populations to improve their ability to identify and mitigate impacts from human activities to marine mammals, and to identify critical wildlife habitats, like migration areas and feeding and nursing grounds.
What We Are Doing and Benefits of Our Work
The goal of this project is to create and provide maps of marine mammal distributions to the Coastal Zone Management Program in the state of Washington. We will:
Compile and process federal and state marine mammal data sets.
Create maps of marine mammal distributions using ecological predictive modeling in support of coastal zone management.
Identify marine mammal hotspots.
We plan to create maps for humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), orca whale (Orcinus orca), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), and Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli).
These maps will also support management of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary by identifying valuable sanctuary resources, improving condition assessments, and increasing the accuracy of coastal zone decisions related to zoning, emergency response, and responsible development projects. We also anticipate this project will provide critical spatial information for ecosystems services identified as important by the ecosystem valuation project also underway, taking advantage of the same data sets, model techniques, and subject matter experts.
The project team includes partners from the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, the National Marine Fisheries Science Centers, the Washington Departments of Ecology and of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington Coastal Zone Management Program.
Related Region of Study: Washington
Primary Contact: Charles Menza
Science for Coastal Ecosystem Management (Biogeographic Assessment, Marine Spatial Planning, Protected Species, Human Dimensions)
Related NCCOS Center: CCMA
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