[MARMAM] Response to question re: BP oil spill cetacean research

Vicki Cornish vcornish at mmc.gov
Tue Jul 20 11:08:45 PDT 2010

Natacha et al - 


In response to your question regarding research efforts associated with the
Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Marine Mammal Commission is monitoring closely
all aspects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including response and
assessment efforts. We are in close communication with NOAA's National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) -
the two primary federal agencies involved in response and assessment for
marine mammals and sea turtles. These agencies are preparing a detailed
response to your query, which may take a few days to post. 


In the interim, please note that there are a wide variety of assessment
activities that are ongoing, including vessel and aircraft surveys in
coastal and deepwater habitats, tagging and tracking studies, and deployment
of passive acoustic monitors along the continental shelf from Texas to
Florida, as well as an analysis of information and tissues from biopsy
samples, stranded animals, and animals in rehabilitation. This information
is being used to direct response efforts and to assess marine mammal
movements and behavioral responses. NMFS and FWS have posted information on
numbers of strandings, as well as response and assessment efforts, on their
respective websites:

-          NMFS Office of Protected Resources -

-          NOAA Office of Response and Restoration -
response.restoration.noaa.gov/, then click on BP Oil Spill icon

-          US Fish and Wildlife Service - www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/


Many researchers from the marine mammal research community have expressed an
interest in doing research in the Gulf to help assess the spill's impact on
marine mammals, and the Marine Mammal Commission encourages additional
research. Some researchers already have permits for work in the Gulf or on
species potentially affected by the spill. The Marine Mammal Commission has
encouraged NMFS' permit office to coordinate research being conducted by
permit holders already authorized or seeking authorization to work on Gulf
marine mammals, and to solicit specific details regarding planned research.
Such coordination will help NMFS ensure that necessary research is being
conducted, that unnecessary redundancy is being avoided, and that the added
stress from research projects is being appropriately managed.


The Marine Mammal Commission will continue to support the activities of the
various federal and state agencies involved in response and assessment. We
have posted information about oil spills and their effect on marine mammals
on the Commission's website at www.mmc.gov. Once response and assessment
efforts have been fully implemented, the Marine Mammal Commission likely
will review those activities to assess their effectiveness and identify ways
that regulatory agencies can improve their responses to future spill events.


Hope this is helpful,


Vicki Cornish

Energy Policy Analyst

Marine Mammal Commission

4340 East-West Highway

Bethesda, MD 20814

(301) 504-0087




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