2017 National Report of Marine Mammal Strandings in the United States
NOAA Fisheries released the 2017 National Report of Marine Mammal Strandings in the United States. Marine mammals strand for a variety of reasons, and NOAA Fisheries tracks this data to monitor threats to wild marine mammal populations.
NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Protected Resources, Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program has prepared a report on marine mammal strandings and emergency response in the United States for calendar year 2017.
NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the protection and conservation of all whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Under Title IV of the MMPA, NOAA Fisheries is charged with collecting, disseminating, and investigating correlates of data on marine mammal health. To accomplish this goal, NOAA Fisheries partners with members of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The National Marine Mammal Stranding Network includes highly skilled and trained professional organizations, including aquaria, for-profits, government agencies, higher education institutions, museums, non-profits, and tribes.
In 2017, which is the focus of this report, there were 5,764 confirmed cetacean and pinniped strandings in the United States. This number is comparable to the 11-year (2006-2016) average of 6,318 + 1,302 animals. Of the confirmed reports in 2017, 70% involved pinnipeds, 26% involved small cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, and small toothed whales), 3% involved large whales (baleen and sperm whales), and 1% of carcasses were too decomposed to classify animals as either a small cetacean or large whale.