Marine Mammal Monitoring and Deterrence Options
To aid in the region’s ability to respond to spills that may threaten marine mammals, and to support contingency plan holders in the development of their wildlife plans, the following contact list has been developed to include available resources for whale monitoring and deterrence. This list will grow as more vessels are identified, vetted, trained, and equipped to support killer whale deterrence operations.
2021 Workshop Presentations
The below presentations were recorded during the Marine Mammal Management in Oil Spill Response workshop in September 2021. The presentations focus on the unique risks posed to some of the region’s marine mammals; the various stages of a marine mammal response, including the initial wildlife assessment, reconnaissance and tracking, deterrence, capture, stabilization, and rehabilitation; and the new wildlife regulations recently adopted in Washington State. Presentations were given by leading wildlife experts and state and federal agency representatives. The recorded question and answer session is linked at the bottom of this page.
Tracy Collier, Ph.D. from Western Washington University, and Chiharu (Chi) Mori, Ph.D. from NOAA, provide an overview of the various ways oil can impact cetaceans with a specific review of potential impacts to southern resident killer whales.
Don Noviello from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Team discusses the unique ways in which sea otters can be harmed in the event of an oil spill, and why they are a focus during a wildlife response.
Erin Gless of the Pacific Whale Watch Association discusses the common whale species, as well as other wildlife, that can be found in the Salish Sea.
David Prater with the Washington Department of Ecology’s Spills Program discusses the state’s wildlife volunteer program. You will learn about how to register to become a wildlife volunteer, when and how volunteers will be activated during a spill, and what volunteers can expect during a spill response.
Gary Shigenaka, formerly with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, gives an overview of a recent study conducted on the effects of oil and dispersants on whale baleen function.
Linda Pilkey-Jarvis with the Washington Department of Ecology’s Spills Program discusses the updated wildlife response rule and its requirements for local industry, oil spill response organizations, and wildlife response groups.
Don Noviello with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Team discusses the unique ways in which sea otters can be harmed in the event of an oil spill, why they are a focus during a wildlife response, and the status of planning for this type of response.
Kristin Wilkinson, the Regional Stranding Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries (Protected Resources Division), provides an overview on Pinniped response. There are six NMFS trust species of pinnipeds in the Pacific Northwest and this presentation introduces those species, the different species considerations for oil spill response, and capacity for rehabilitating pinnipeds. The West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network is also introduced and their role in pinniped response is explained and broken down into live animal and dead animal response.
Dr. Randall Davis with International Wildlife Research and Texas A&M discusses the history of oil spills involving sea otters and some of the complexities, science, and contingency planning behind this type of response.
Don Noviello with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Team discusses Washington State’s rehabilitation permit requirements pertinent to marine mammal rehabilitation during and after an oil spill.
Teal Waterstrat with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) discusses the wildlife authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act in relation to a response to oiled sea otters.
Kristin Wilkinson, the Regional Stranding Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries (Protected Resources Division), provides an overview of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP). The MMHSRP carries out response, rescue, rehabilitation and release of threatened and endangered marine mammals under NMFS jurisdiction. Part of that program involves emergency response to oil spills, population monitoring, and authorizing specific oil spill response activities through Co-Investigator letters under the MMHSRP permit. This presentation introduces those topics and provides specific examples of what activities are approved under the permit.
Dr. Alan Mearns describes his experiences and lessons learned responding to the 1997 San Jorge oil tanker spill, Isla de Lobos, Uruguay. Thousands of two-month old pups were coated with oil. Together, Uruguayan and international responders (including NOAA representatives) assembled and evaluated response and recovery options, leading to a response that involved manual cleaning using sorbent peat in the hands of small teams of naval personnel.
Michael Ziccardi with Oiled Wildlife Care Network and Sarah Wilkin with NOAA present a case study of the wildlife response during the 2015 Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
Grace Ferrara with NOAA Fisheries gives an overview of whale reconnaissance and tracking in the event of an oil spill in the Pacific Northwest.
Dr. Scott Viers from Beam Reach provides an overview of his work helping to create open-source solutions for acoustic detection and tracking of marine mammals in the Salish Sea, and how this acoustic and visual data can help inform an oil spill response in the region.
Erin Gless with the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) provides an overview of the organization and how the Association and its members can play an important role during an oil spill.
Kristin Wilkinson, the Regional Stranding Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries (Protected Resources Division), discusses the decision-making process before deterrence operations take place, as well as an overview of close-range hazing techniques and how these activities are authorized and covered.
Andy Carlson with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Team discusses some of the practical aspects of a marine mammal response during a wildlife equipment deployment drill near Elma, WA in July 2018.
This video is a recording of the Q&A period that followed the workshop’s presentations.
Thanks to the Planning Committee: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, United States Coast Guard, Shell, ConocoPhillips-Polar Tankers, Centerline Logistics, Washington Department of Ecology.