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NOAA Fisheries Declares an Unusual Mortality Event for Seals Along the Coast of Maine

July 20, 2022

Since June 2022, elevated numbers of harbor seal and gray seal mortalities have occurred across the southern and central coast of Maine. This event has been declared an unusual mortality event (UME).

NOAA Fisheries will host a video teleconference with representatives from our Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Tufts University, and state and federal partners to share information and answer questions about our recent declaration of an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) involving an increase in strandings of harbor and gray seals in Maine. An Unusual Mortality Event involves a significant die-off of a population, and demands immediate response by agencies under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Elevated strandings of harbor and gray seals began in June 2022 and are continuing. Seals have tested positive for highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza, a zoonotic disease with the potential to spread between wild animals, domestic animals (pets), and humans. The UME declaration will bring more focus and resources to help the investigation, including significant expertise of the Working Group and an Investigative Team.

Although this video teleconference is intended for the media, our Marine Mammal Stranding Network partners, local, state, and federal officials are also welcome to join. However, we will reserve questions for the media only. 

For more information, please read the seal UME webpage and the associated Frequently Asked Questions document.  

Media contact: 

Allison Ferreira,, (978) 281-9103


Wednesday, July 20, 2022, at 1 p.m. ET (USA)


  • Sarah Wilkin, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program
  • Lynda Doughty, Executive Director, Marine Mammals of Maine
  • Wendy Puryear, Tufts University, Infectious Disease and Global Health, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Bryan Richards, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, Emerging Disease Coordinator


  • Webinar 
  • Questions and Answers


Click here to register for the webinar. You will be prompted to choose one of the following audio options when registering. 


When the webinar begins, you will be connected to audio using your computer's microphone and speakers. A headset is recommended.


If you prefer to use your phone, you must select "Use Telephone" after joining the webinar and call in using the numbers below.

United States: +1 (415) 655-0052

Access Code: 376-861-612

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the webinar

Following the call, a recording of the webinar will be posted by noon, July 21, under the “More Information” box on our seal UME webpage. 


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