Documenting Occurrences and Investigating the Causes of Marine Mammal Strandings in Oregon
Stranding events offer a wealth of information to researchers and resource managers by providing valuable insights into the lives of marine mammals, including their seasonal distributions, natural histories, environmental contaminant levels, impacts due to human interactions, and incidence of disease.
Monitoring Ocean Sentinels is a video by Jim Rice a Stranding Program Manager of the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
Marine mammal stranding networks provide a first line of detection for marine animal and ocean health concerns, offering continuous surveillance for emerging, infectious, and zoonotic diseases in marine mammals, in areas frequented by the general (and unsuspecting) public, as well as for anthropogenic causes of marine mammal morbidity and mortality. These include fishery takes, ship strikes, shootings, entanglements in marine debris, the bioaccumulation of persistent toxic contaminants, the potential effects of noise (naval sonar), and interactions with wave and wind energy devices. Disease trends can point to large scale disruptions in the marine environment, including shifting prey resources and harmful algal blooms.
The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network (OMMSN) is a collaborative organization comprised of partners from Oregon universities, state and federal agencies, and citizen volunteers. It is coordinated by Jim Rice with the Marine Mammal Institute of Oregon State University.
The objectives of OMMSN are:
Our work keeps us vigilant about changes in the health and challenges to the welfare of marine mammals along the Oregon coast, providing a unique window into the state of the natural world.
A newborn harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) rests alone on shore. Harbor seal mothers routinely leave their pups ashore unattended while they forage in the water, returning to nurse them every few hours. It is important to give resting pups lots of space (50 yards or more) so as not to interfere with this process.
A young northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) is shown hauled out on a Newport beach. Seals and sea lions come ashore for a variety of reasons. Often, it’s simply to get some rest. In other cases,it’s due to injury or disease.