Marine Mammal Commission

North Atlantic Right Whale Tagging Workshop

Co-hosted by the Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), NOAA Fisheries (NMFS), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)

September 12-14, 2023

Update: A copy of the workshop report is available here.

Workshop Objectives

1.) review key knowledge gaps and data needs regarding the movements, life history, and ecology of North Atlantic right whales (NARWs);

2.) review the history of satellite telemetry and evaluate progress in tag attachment technologies and follow-up studies; and

3.) generate knowledge to inform planning and permitting decisions regarding potential tagging of NARWs

Workshop Structure

Day 1 consisted of an open session with presentations to the assembled experts and virtual attendees on research needs for NARWs, the history of telemetry tag development and use for large whales, the permitting environment in the U.S. and Canada, and tagging best practices.

Days 2 and 3 were closed sessions where invited experts engaged in-depth on key information that can be gained from tagging, the evolution of tag technology and design, follow-up studies to examine the effects of tagging on baleen whales, and the utility of different tag types with respect to identified research questions. Invited experts also considered potential future NARW tagging and  follow-up monitoring to address important data deficiencies.

Day 1 Recordings



Day 1 Agenda

First calf of the 2020 season (Clearwater Marine Aquarium under NOAA permit #20556-01)

Welcome and introduction – Frances Gulland (MMC) and Mike Weise (ONR)

Introductory talk: Telemetry data and the conservation and management of NARWsGreg Donovan (International Whale Commission, retired)

Facilitated panel discussion on gaps in knowledge of NARW ecology and movements pertinent to management needs, with emphasis on information that could be provided by telemetry data – Véronique Lesage (DFO), Colleen Coogan (NMFS-Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office), Clay George (NMFS-Southeast Regional Office), Sean Hayes (NMFS-Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Amy Knowlton (New England Aquarium), Erin Meyer-Gutbrod (University of South Carolina)

Permitting environment: Government officials will summarize the U.S. and Canadian regulatory context when contemplating tagging endangered large whalesAmy Sloan (NMFS-Office of Protected Resources), Laurence Denault-Tremblay (DFO)

Brief overview of best practice guidelines for cetacean taggingMike Weise (ONR)

History of NARW taggingDave Weller (NMFS-Southwest Fisheries Science Center)

Review of types of tags used to date on baleen whales: Experts in tagging and tag development will provide an overview of different telemetry tag types and on which species they have been deployed, deployment durations, anchor design, target locations on animals, any known and/or suspected effects based on follow-up studies, data to be gathered from the tags, and overall challenges and opportunities

Discussion and Q&A session – Peter Thomas (MMC)

Wrap-up public session – Adèle Labbé (DFO)

Additional presentations and meeting recordings will be added as they become available. Please contact the presenters for permission to use any images or data from their slides.  Note: embedded videos and animations have been disabled.


For a copy of the public agenda, please click here. The list of expert participants can be found here.

A summary of the tagging workshop was presented by Kim Damon-Randall (NMFS) at the 2023 North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


For more information, contact Brady O’Donnell (

Learn More

A workshop on effects of tagging NARW and related report (Kraus et al. 2000)

Report of the Large Whale Tagging Workshop (Weller 2008)

Report of the Joint ONR IWC NOAA Workshop on Cetacean Tag Development, Tag Follow-up and Tagging Best Practices (ONR/NOAA/IWC 2020) and Workshop Proceedings (ONR 2009)

Best practice guidelines for cetacean tagging (Andrews et al. 2019)