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A Review of Climate Change Effects on Marine Mammals in United States Waters

February 18, 2022

We review the literature to address past predictions, observed impacts, current research and conservation imperatives concerning the impact of of climate change on marine mammals.

We consider the current evidence of climate change effects on marine mammals that occur in U.S. waters relative to past predictions.

Compelling cases of such effects have been documented, though few studies have confirmed significant impacts on populations. While many of the observed effects had been predicted, some unforeseen consequences have also been documented. 

The literature is full of cases suggestive of climate change impacts on marine mammals, but which remain unconfirmed. This uncertainty is partially explained by insufficient research and monitoring designed to reveal the connections. 

Detecting and navigating the impacts of climate change will require some reorganization of research and monitoring priorities, coupled with rapid and flexible management that includes both standard and new conservation interventions.

Gulland FMD, Baker JD, Howe M, LaBrecque E, Leach L, Moore SE, Reeves RR, Thomas PO. 2022. A review of climate change effects on marine mammals in United States waters: Past predictions, observed impacts, current research and conservation imperatives. Climate Change Ecology. Volume 3: 100054.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecochg.2022.100054.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 03/23/2022