Marine Mammal Commission

2018 Grant Awards

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Projects Funded by the Marine Mammal Commission in Fiscal Year 2018

Topic A: Research/Projects – Focal Area: Community-Driven Conservation Approaches to Address Threats to Marine Mammals

Low-cost solutions to cetacean bycatch in small scale fisheries and potential fisher-level barriers to implementation

Berggren, P.

Newcastle University

Bycatch in gillnet fisheries is considered the most significant threat globally for cetaceans, yet there are many challenges presented by potential mitigation measures (i.e. cost, reduction of target species catch, etc.). This project will begin to address these challenges by testing the effectiveness of two novel low-cost mitigation methods in Peru and Argentina, while concurrently carrying out fisher-level workshops to identify barriers to mitigation strategies.

Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Protected Areas for Mediterranean Monk Seal Juveniles Protection

Fernández de Larrinoa, P.

Fundación CBD-Habitat

The endangered Mediterranean monk seal population of the Cabo Blanco peninsula has seen signs of recovery due to established protection measures, which are up for renewal in 2019. This project will utilize GPS-tagged juveniles to inform an information gap essential to the renewal of No Fishing areas, a conservation measure that protects monk seal critical habitat.

Developing solutions to the critical threat of bycatch in illegal fisheries for Caspian seals (Pusa caspica)

Goodman, S.

University of Leeds

Bycatch in illegal, unmanaged, and undocumented (IUU) fisheries is poorly understood. This study uses combined ecological and social science approaches to determine the magnitude, drivers, links to illegal wildlife trade, and mitigation opportunities in relation to the bycatch of Caspian seals (Pusa caspica) from illegal sturgeon fisheries and poaching in the Russian area of the Caspian Sea.

Topic A: Research/Projects

Proposal to sample the holotype specimen of Megaptera indica (Gervais, 1883) at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (Paris)

Baldwin, R.

Five Oceans Environmental Services Ltd

Several lines of evidence suggest that humpback whales in the Arabian Sea/Northern Indian Ocean comprise a discrete, isolated and non-migratory population that merits a taxonomic revision.  Morphometric analyses, as well as bone sampling and DNA analyses of samples, will be conducted on the type specimen at the Paris Natural History Museum (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle). These analyses should allow for a conclusive resolution on the taxonomic status of Arabian Sea humpback whales. A new taxonomic designation will encourage greater awareness of Arabian Sea humpback whales and enable a clearer understanding of the conservation needs for this species/subspecies, including its future in the face of climate change and other threats. This information would provide justification for intensified conservation efforts at national, regional and global levels.

Investigation of the recent mass stranding of 68 common dolphins in Golfo Nuevo, Península Valdés, Argentina


Instituto de Conservacion de Ballenas

Funding was provided to facilitate an immediate emergency response to a mass stranding of 68 Atlantic common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) at El Doradillo beach in Golfo Nuevo, Peninsula Valdes, Argentina. Activities supported include, 1) establishing an investigation committee, including a network of local experts, working in collaboration with advisory groups such as the International Whaling Commission Stranding Expert Panel; 2) thorough recordings of stranding event history, including potential human-related factors; 3) performing detailed and systematic necropsies and extensive sample collection following well-established protocols (Pugliares et al. 2007 and Young et al. 2007); 4) preparing a list of differential diagnosis and prioritizing sample shipment to diagnostic laboratories for cause-of-death investigation; and 5) archiving duplicates and non-priority samples to support ancillary and life history research.

The final report is available from the Commission upon request.

Topic B: Conferences, Symposia, Workshops, Meetings, and Publications – Focal Area: Community-Driven Conservation Approaches to Address Threats to Marine Mammals

Community Action to Protect Southern Resident Killer Whales in the San Juan Islands, Washington

Robertson, F.

San Juan County

Within the core habitat for the endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW), the presence of vessels impacts the whales’s ability to navigate, detect prey, and communicate. This study aims to significantly increase boater compliance with existing vessel regulations and guidelines through community outreach efforts and compliance assessments.

Reducing Whale Strikes through Industry Engagement

Wilson, R. & Carver, M.

Greater Farallones Association

Vessel Speed Reductions (VSR) efforts have demonstrated to be successful as a mitigation measure to reduce the risk of lethal ship strikes to endangered whales in California waters.  This project will work to improve compliance with VSR zones during periods of peak whale abundance in four national marine sanctuaries through industry engagement, collaboration with key partners, and evaluation of project effectiveness.

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

Support for Translation Services as well as Student and International Travel Expenses for the Tenth International Conference of Marine Mammals of the Holarctic, Archangelsk, Russia from October 29 – November 3, 2018

Burkanov, V.

North Pacific Wildlife Consulting, LLC

Support provided for translation services, as well as travel for students and international researchers, for the Tenth International Conference on Marine Mammals of the Holarctic, including real-time translation (Russian to English) of conference presentations, and dual-language printings of conference proceedings.

Support for the 2019 World Conference on Marine Mammal Science, Barcelona, Spain, 9 – 12 December 2019

Pabst, A., Moore, K.

Society for Marine Mammalogy

Support provided to the Society for Marine Mammalogy for student travel – specifically international student travel – to the 2019 World Conference on Marine Mammal Science, 9 – 12 December 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.

Fifth International Conference on the Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life

Sisneros, J

University of Washington

Support provided for the fifth International Conference on “The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life,” 7-12 July 2019, in Den Haag, The Netherlands. Funding is specifically for bringing students, younger faculty, representatives of third world countries, and a few key speakers to the meeting.