Deceased Animal Strandings

Marine Mammals of Maine (MMoME) responds to deceased seals, whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea turtles, accounting for 40% of our total responses. When deceased animals are reported to our hotline, staff or volunteers are dispatched to collect valuable information from each case. If the animal is fresh enough, it may be collected to perform a necropsy (autopsy for animals).

Most marine mammals are poorly understood, leaving much to be studied and learned; even species with robust populations are currently understudied. As a bio indicator species, it is particularly important to closely monitor marine mammals. Their health and populations can shed light on the qualitative status of the ocean environment, and indicate cumulative effects taking place in marine ecosystems.

Deceased stranded marine mammal monitoring includes sampling for histopathology, contaminants, parasites, serology, virology, etc., and monitors trends in zoonotic/non-zoonotic diseases, human impacts (ingestion of, and entanglement in marine debris, propeller strikes, etc.), and much more. We work collaboratively with NOAA and other organizations and research groups to maximize data collection and analysis. Our contributions to marine mammal science aims to inform the bigger picture of what is going on in our oceans, and the smaller scale picture of what is taking place in our own backyard, on Maine’s beaches.

Data collected from our work with deceased stranded marine mammals has helped guide MMoME’s initiatives to reduce marine debris, and mitigate harmful human interactions.

As with all of MMoME’s programs, our research and data collection work is made possible by generous private donations. If you’d like to help support MMoME’s role in this area, visit the donate page.