[MARMAM] Paper published: Strandings illustrate marine mammal biodiversity and human impacts off the coast of North Carolina

Barbie Byrd - NOAA Affiliate barbie.byrd at noaa.gov
Wed Jan 15 06:17:23 PST 2014

I am pleased to share with you the notification of a paper just published
in Fishery Bulletin.  The paper is Open Access and can be downloaded
from *http://fishbull.noaa.gov/1121/byrd.pdf

Byrd, B. L., A. A. Hohn, G. N. Lovewell, K. M. Altman, S. G. Barco, A.
Friedlaender, C. A. Harms, W. A. McLellan, K. T. Moore, P. E. Rosel, and V.
G. Thayer. 2014. *Strandings illustrate marine mammal biodiversity and
human impacts off the coast of North Carolina, USA*. Fishery Bulletin

Abstract—The adjacency of 2 marine biogeographic regions off Cape Hatteras,
North Carolina (NC), and the proximity of the Gulf Stream result in a high
biodiversity of species from northern and southern provinces and from
coastal and pelagic habitats. We examined spatiotemporal patterns of marine
mammal strandings and evidence of human interaction for these strandings
along NC shorelines and evaluated whether the spatiotemporal patterns and
species diversity of the stranded animals reflected published records of
populations in NC waters. During the period of 1997–2008, 1847 stranded
animals were documented from 1777 reported events. These animals
represented 9 families and 34 species that ranged from tropical delphinids
to pagophilic seals. This biodiversity is higher than levels observed in
other regions. Most strandings were of coastal bottlenose dolphins (*Tursiops
truncatus*) (56%), harbor porpoises (*Phocoena phocoena*) (14%), and harbor
seals (*Phoca vitulina*) (4%). Overall, strandings of northern species
peaked in spring. Bottlenose dolphin strandings peaked in spring and fall.
Almost half of the strandings, including southern delphinids, occurred
north of Cape Hatteras, on only 30% of NC’s coastline. Most stranded
animals that were positive for human interaction showed evidence of having
been entangled in fishing gear, particularly bottlenose dolphins, harbor
porpoises, short-finned pilot whales (*Globicephala macrorhynchus*), harbor
seals, and humpback whales (*Megaptera novaeangliae*). Spatiotemporal
patterns of bottlenose dolphin strandings were similar to ocean gillnet
fishing effort. Biodiversity of the animals stranded on the beaches
reflected biodiversity in the waters off NC, albeit not always proportional
to the relative abundance of species (e.g., *Kogia *species). Changes in
the spatiotemporal patterns of strandings can serve as indicators of
underlying changes due to anthropogenic or naturally occurring events in
the source populations.


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Barbie Byrd
JHT, Inc. Contractor
NOAA Beaufort Lab
National Marine Fisheries Service
Protected Resources Branch
101 Pivers Island
Beaufort, NC 28516 USA

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