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50 Years of Protecting Marine Mammals

February 02, 2023

A look at the Marine Mammal Protection Act's many advancements and accomplishments in the last 50 years.

Pair of bottlenose dolphins Pair of bottlenose dolphins. Credit: NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center/Lisa Morse.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was first enacted in 1972. It responded to a growing public concern at that time over the health and welfare of marine mammals like seals, whales, dolphins, manatees, and sea lions.

Gray seal pups. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.

On this episode, we take a look at this landmark legislation 50 years after it was signed into law. We'll hear how the Act has advanced the science of marine mammal health. Its protections have stopped the decline of many populations and led to the recovery of several, such as populations of humpback whales, gray whales, gray seals, and California sea lions. Its provisions also support our responses to marine life in distress, helping animals that are entangled or stranded.

Dr. Teri Rowles is the Senior Advisor for Marine Mammal Science with the National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program in NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources. She joins us to explore the history and accomplishments of the Act. 

Understanding Marine Mammal Protections

Learn how NOAA Fisheries protects all marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Pod of killer whales.