There are still a lot of unknowns about marine mammal species in the Gulf of Maine and the habitat on which they—and humans—depend. MMoME is committed to filling some of those data gaps, through our stranding response and animal care platforms, with our team’s experience and expertise in working with marine mammals, and by partnering with others.
The list of our partnerships is long! Here’s a sampling of our ongoing projects:
University of Maine Orono
Analysis of non-invasive environmental DNA extraction from water samples in seal rehab pools, quantifying harmful human interaction with marine mammals in Maine, marine mammal genetics, and much more.
University of Massachusetts Boston
DNA extraction from seal feces of stranded and rehabilitated seals collected by MMoME’s team.
Biological samples collected by MMoME from live and dead-stranded and rehabilitated marine mammals are tested for SARS, Avian Influenza, and Phocine and Cetacean Distemper Virus to better understand marine mammal health. This is a long-standing partnership established for disease surveillance in seals.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program works with MMoME to monitor and further understand Phocine Distemper Virus (PDV) in harbor and grey seal populations. In 2018, a PDV outbreak resulted in an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) for harbor and grey seals from Virginia to Maine, with MMoME’s response territory marking the epicenter.
NOAA’s Fisheries Science Center and MMoME have been working together since 2015 to assess harbor and grey seal population sizes. Our collaborative field work has taken place along the East Coast between Virginia and Maine.
College of the Atlantic
Collaboratively collecting samples from stranded seals to better understand the presence of microplastics in the ocean environment.
Atlantic Marine Conservation Society
Working together to learn more about harbor and grey seal habitat use throughout the Northeast. Satellite tags are being used to collect geographic locations, dive depths, sea water temperature, and more.
The Northeast Regional Stranding Network and NOAA
Monitoring two Unusual Mortality Events (UME) in the Northeast. MMoME’s Executive Director serves as On-Site Coordinator for the seal UME and Deputy On-Site Coordinator for the large whale UME.
University of Southern Maine Community College
A recently formed research relationship to begin analyzing shark and seal occurrences in Casco Bay.