Marine Mammal Commission

2015 Grant Awards

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Projects Funded by the Marine Mammal Commission in Fiscal Year 2015

Topic A: Research/Projects

The Impacts of Noise on Reproductive Advertisement of an Aquatically Breeding Pinniped

Parks, S.

Syracuse University

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) will be used as a model system to investigate the variation in, and the effects of noise on, the mating strategies of aquatically breeding pinnipeds. Results will increase our understanding of the mating systems of pinnipeds and highlight potential areas for management and conservation. Link to Leanna Matthews’ dissertation and see link to publication.

Connectivity between Indian Ocean humpback dolphin populations in East Africa: What is the most appropriate unit for conservation?

Braulik, G.

Wildlife Conservation Society

Provide an understanding of the movements between areas of Indian Ocean humpback dolphin, Sousa plumbea, concentration in East Africa to determine the most appropriate units for conservation and management. Improve regional collaboration of researchers involved in cetacean photo-ID and genetic sampling in Kenya and Tanzania.

Assessing High Cetacean Diversity and Omura’s Whale Distribution in Northwest Madagascar during the Western Indian Ocean Oil and Gas Boom

Cerchio, S.

New England Aquarium

Examine cetacean presence and diversity in Northwest Madagascar, with a special focus on Omura’s whale, in order obtain critically needed baseline data to better inform monitoring and mitigation associated with oil and gas development activities in the area.

The final report is available from the Commission upon request.

Investigating factors for unusual dolphin mortalities on the U.S. Atlantic coast: focus on the immune system

De Guise, S.

University of Connecticut

Further the understanding of the 2013 –2015 Mid-Atlantic bottlenose dolphin Unusual Mortality Event (UME) morbillivirus epizootic and potential predisposing factors and impacts on the overall health of the population. Contribute an assessment of immune functions directly relevant to morbillivirus infection as an addition to NOAA’s planned bottlenose dolphin live capture and health assessment, to refine our understanding of host susceptibility and consequences of infection.

The final report is available from the Commission upon request.

Topic A: Research/Projects - Focal Area: North Pacific right whales

North Pacific right whale visual and acoustic survey in the northwestern Gulf of Alaska

Rone, B.

Marine Mammal Laboratory

Conduct visual and acoustic surveys for North Pacific right whales in the northwestern Gulf of Alaska to collect critical information on the occurrence, movements, and habitat use of right whales to help assess status, population structure, and risks from anthropogenic threats. Link to publication.

Analysis of existing acoustic data to assess the occurrence and distribution of North Pacific right whales

Berchok, C.

Marine Mammal Laboratory

Analyze existing acoustic data from the Bering Sea and two Aleutian Islands passes to assess the occurrence of North Pacific right whales in this region and potential overlap with threats such as fishery entanglement and ship strike. See links to publications:

  1. Wright et al., 2018
  2. Wright et al., 2019

Topic B: Conferences, Symposia, Workshops, Meetings, and Publications

8th Workshop for the Coordinated Research and Conservation of the Franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei)

Cremer, M.

Projeto Toninhas

Hold a workshop hosted by the Franciscana Consortium in São Francisco do Sul, Santa Catarina State, Brazil 5-9 October 2015. The workshop will provide an opportunity for stakeholders from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to work together and assist their governments in producing a solid, science-based IWC Conservation Management Plan proposal. See link to final workshop report.

Assessment of the Cumulative Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Marine Mammals

Roberts, S. & Glickson, D.

National Academy of Sciences

Assemble an expert committee who will take an unbiased perspective in reviewing approaches and developing specific recommendations for identifying new approaches to assess cumulative effects of multiple anthropogenic stressors on marine mammal populations that, in turn, have direct and indirect effects on vital rates and population health. The committee will assess current methodologies used for evaluating cumulative effects, with a focus on anthropogenic sound, and identify new approaches that could improve these assessments. Link to NAS study

21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Francisco, CA

Harvey, J.

Society for Marine Mammalogy

Support for student travel – specifically international student travel – to the Society for Marine Mammalogy’s 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, convened in San Francisco, California, USA, December 13-18, 2015.