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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments and Future Directions. Sarah Wilkin NOAA Fisheries Southwest Region Long Beach, California [email protected] U.S. Marine Mammal Policy: Legal Protection.

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments and Future Directions

Sarah Wilkin

NOAA Fisheries Southwest Region

Long Beach, California

[email protected]


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U.S. Marine Mammal Policy: Legal Protection

  • Marine Mammals in the Wild

    • Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA): all marine mammals

    • Endangered Species Act (ESA): only those species listed as threatened or endangered (at risk of going extinct)

  • Marine Mammals in Captivity

    • Animal Welfare Act

      • Also MMPA and ESA requirements


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U.S. Marine Mammal Policy: Jurisdiction

Split Between Multiple Government Agencies

  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

  • Has jurisdiction over all wild cetaceans and pinnipeds except walrus

  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)

  • Has jurisdiction over wild walrus, polar bears, manatees, and sea otters

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • Has jurisdiction over all

  • marine mammals in captivity


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Title IV of the Marine Mammal Protection Act

Creates the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) within NMFS (in coordination with FWS)

Establishes 3 purposes of the Program:

Collect and disseminate health and health trends data on wild marine mammal populations

Correlate health/trends data with biological, physical, and chemical environmental

Coordinate effective responses to strandings and unusual mortality events

 Due to logistical constraints (personnel and money), NMFS cannot accomplish these purposes nationwide alone

U.S. Marine Mammal Policy: Mandate


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network(NMFS jurisdiction)


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Authority(NMFS jurisdiction)


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: A “Legacy” System

  • Prior to 1972 (passage of MMPA), there was no legal framework or coverage for marine mammals

  • Organizations began responding to strandings; participation for a variety of reasons

    • Scientific information/data/curiosity

    • Collection of museum specimens

    • Animal welfare concerns (rehabilitation)

    • Public health or nuisance (smell, sight) concerns

  • MMHSRP (National Program) wasn’t created until 1992


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: A “Legacy” System

  • Response is inconsistent

    • Depends on geographic area (some great, some absent)

    • May only be for particular species or interests (e.g., human interaction cases)

  • Interpretive value is limited

    • Local perspective only makes it difficult to determine health of wide-ranging marine mammal populations

  • Procedures and protocols may be inconsistent

    • No standardization

    • No accountability

  • Motivating forces may be inconsistent

    • Can lead to philosophical differences which impair communication and cooperation


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: A “Legacy” System

  • Overcoming These Challenges - Communication and Respect are the Keys

    • Development of standardized protocols with input from various organizations (all speaking the same language)

    • Coordination of interpretation of data – need a regional or national perspective, useful for detection of unusual mortality events, range shifts and general population health

    • Accountability: both to peers (other network members) and to NMFS (authority)

    • Respect different motivations, as long as everyone uses the same protocols


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

2007: 1263 Cetaceans, 4052 pinnipeds = 5315 total strandings (NMFS)


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

Level A data is mandatory for

every stranding response

(3500 -7000 records per year)

Basic Data:

Who: Examiner

What: Species of Marine Mammal, Sex, Standard Length, Decomposition Code, Tag Information (if any)

Where: Latitude/Longitude and Description of Location

When: Date of Initial Report and Observation

Why: Signs of Human Interaction, Illness or Injury, Necropsy Conducted, Disposition of Tissues

Collected into National Database


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

National and Regional Coordination

  • MMHSRP Manager

  • National Stranding

    Coordinator at HQ

  • 6 Regional Stranding

    Coordinators/Staff

  • National Database

    Manager

    Improved Communication and Networking

  • Regional and National Meetings

  • Newsletters, Listserves


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U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

National and Regional Oversight

  • Development of Standardized Protocols: Rehabilitation Facilities and Pre-Release Checklists

  • Standardized Authorization Procedure: Stranding Agreements and Evaluation Criteria

  • Consequences for violating protocols or agreements


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Rehabilitation facilities

Proper facility, housing and space

Life Support Systems

Quarantine

Security

Limit public viewing

Food Handling

Sanitation

Rehabilitation program

Veterinary Program

Skilled staff

Standard protocols

Record Keeping

Health and Safety Plan

Contingency Plans (Natural Disaster, Manmade Emergency)

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

Minimum Requirements for Marine Mammal Rehabilitation


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Make better decisions on the beach

Rehabilitation candidate?

Goal

Release back to the wild

Permanent captivity

Euthanasia

Assessment depends

Rehabilitation capacity

Stranding history

Development stage

Medical assessment

Behavior assessment

Release logistics

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

Standardized Criteria for Live Marine Mammal Evaluation


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Diagnostic

Pathology and special diagnostics

Biotoxin analysis

Contaminant analysis

Viral and Bacterial screens

Morbillivirus

Leptospira

Brucella

Herpes virus

Erysipelothrix

Consultation and Assistance

Expert advice

Response assistance

Equipment and Supplies

Training - Stranding response, necropsy, special issues

- National Meeting (5 years)

- Regional Network meetings (1-2 years)

- Professional meetings (AVMA, IAAAM, SMM, IWC)

- International

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

Services Provided by NMFS to Network Members


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Necropsy

Evaluation of

Human

Interaction

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

Development of Standardized Protocols

Zoonotic

Disease

Risks

Oil Spill

Response


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Virtual Microscope

Diagnostic Imaging (MRI/CT)

Conduct virtual “Rounds” with numerous vets

Teaching tool

Standardized interpretation

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

Improved Standardization of Diagnosis and Interpretation

Scanner –can reside anywhere

GLASS SLIDE

Entire slide digitized and

stored on a server


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John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program

$100,000 per grant; $3.7 Mil per year

U.S. authorizedstranding network members and researchers with established records of participation

Grand Total FY01-08

314 Awards

76 Organizations representing 23 US states and 3 US territories

$27,379,778 + $1.4Mil Emergency

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Accomplishments

Direct Financial Support via Grants


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Policies Program

Permanent Disposition Determinations of Non releasables

“Decisions on the Beach” – best rehab and release candidates

Euthanasia

Mass Stranding Response

Disentanglement

Training and certification: Credential/Certificate?

Disentanglement

Oil Spill

Unusual Mortality Event investigations

Mass Stranding

Veterinary Practices

Rehabilitation

Media & Outreach

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

More Policies and Continued Trainings “in the pipeline”


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Evoked Auditory Potential Program

Determine baseline hearing level

Laboratory and Field Diagnostics

Micro-Array: test for a variety of pathogens at once

Flow-through tests: on the beach tests for exposure to biotoxins, certain diseases

Room temperature sampling and storage techniques

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

Efficient and Portable Diagnostic Techniques


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Oil Spills and Ship Strikes Program

Global shipping traffic predicted to double by 2015

Acoustics: Ocean Noise, Oil and Gas Exploration, and Naval Activities

Emerging Contaminants

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

Improved Readiness for Identified and Emerging Threats


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Climate Change Program

May change severity, transport, concentration, and dispersion of: Pathogens, Biotoxins, Contaminants

Distribution shifts in prey, predators, and marine mammals

Emerging Infectious Agents

Viral: West Nile, Influenza, Encephalitis

Fungal: Cryptococcus, Zygomyces, Lacazaria

Bacterial: Brucella, Leptospira, Coxiella

Protozoal: Toxoplasma, Sarcocystis

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

Improved Readiness for Identified and Emerging Threats


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U.S. Network is primarily a Passive Surveillance Network Program

Depend on public or other partners to report animals

Very few areas with Active Surveillance

Regular Beach Walks as part of job (park ranger)

Volunteer networks (Marine Sanctuaries)

Lack of Standardized Information

Few/Some/Many/All(?) strandings may be missed

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

Improved Capabilities as a Surveillance Network

Actual Strandings

Observed by Public

Reported to Network

Thoroughly Investigated (COD)


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Geospatial data – format of lat, long; missing data Program

Lack of standard, validated diagnostics

Sampling/reporting often by volunteers with inconsistent training (wildlife issue)

Generally incomplete diagnostics – limited resources or decomposition state

Lack of case definitions

Incomplete information – how do we rate/rank quality/acceptability of data for marine wildlife cases?

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

Challenges for Wildlife Surveillance


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Pros Program

May be only data possible on uncommon species or in a particular area

Cost effective biosurveillance: they come to you!

First line of detection

Discovery science

Sample size

Good for case studies or correlational or case/control studies for common species

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

Pros and Cons of Using Data from Stranded Animals

Cons

  • Sampling/diagnostics depend on carcass state and response resources

  • Small fraction of actual mortalities, not random sample of mortalities

  • Not always indicative of animal’s home range

  • Not random sample of population

  • Cannot determine disease prevalence but can provide index for analysis of temporal trends


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Opportunity Program

for control

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

Outbreak Detection and Response: Traditional

First

Case

Detection/

Reporting

Laboratory

Confirmation

Response

CASES

DAY

Adapted from J. Davis, Climate Adaptation Workshop, Nov. 2003


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Opportunity Program

for control

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Future Directions

Effective Early Warning System

First Case

Ocean and Coastal Observations and Monitoring Information

Detection/

Reporting

Laboratory

Confirmation

Response

CASES

- 120

DAY

Adapted from J. Davis, Climate Adaptation Workshop, Nov. 2003


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We’re making progress (hopefully in the right direction!) Program

We can provide many “lessons learned”

We can never know what is Abnormal until we understand what Normal is

U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Conclusions


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Questions? Program

Sarah Wilkin

[email protected]


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