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Protecting Marine Life
Healthy marine species like whales, sea turtles, coral, and salmon are important for maintaining balanced and thriving ocean ecosystems. We work to protect marine species populations from decline and extinction, conduct research to understand their health and environment, and evaluate and monitor human activities that might affect them to ensure future generations may enjoy them.
A group of young monk seals awaits release after being outfitted with satellite trackers that will help NOAA scientists understand how young seals use their environment and learn to find food. Photo: NOAA Fisheries
Under the ESA, we protect more than 150 critically imperiled species, including 63 foreign species. We determine which species are listed under the ESA, designate critical habitat, and develop and implement recovery plans.
The MMPA makes it our job to protect all whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions. This law prohibits, with certain exceptions, the "take" of marine mammals—including harassment, hunting, capture, collection, or killing—in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas.
Activities that might impact marine life often require permits and authorizations. These activities can include scientific research, photography, commercial fishing, construction projects, and other actions.
We collect and analyze data on the marine mammal and sea turtle populations by gathering scientific information on a species or stock’s population structure, life history characteristics and productivity rates, abundance, and threats.