2018 Report of Marine Mammal Strandings in the United States
NOAA Fisheries' Office of Protected Resources, Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program has prepared an overview of marine mammal strandings and emergency response activities in the United States for calendar year 2018.
NOAA Fisheries' Office of Protected Resources, Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program has prepared an overview of marine mammal strandings and emergency response activities in the United States for the calendar year 2018.
NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the protection and conservation of all whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under 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 comprises highly skilled and trained individuals from professional organizations, including aquaria, for-profits, government agencies, higher education institutions, museums, non-profits, and tribes.
In 2018, there were 7,320 confirmed cetacean and pinniped strandings in the United States. This number is comparable to the 12-year (2006–2017) average of 6,268 +/- 1,250 animals. Of the confirmed reports in 2018, 78 percent involved pinnipeds, 19 percent involved small cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, and small toothed whales), and 3 percent involved large whales (baleen and sperm whales). Sometimes carcasses were too decomposed to classify animals to species, or the location of the stranding limited access to, and recovery of, the carcass. These animals were categorized as “unknown cetacean.” In 2018, less than 1 percent of stranded animals were classified as an unknown cetacean.