OMB Reviewing NOAA’s Critical Habitat Designation for the Hawaiian Insular False Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment

As of May 23, 2018, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget is reviewing these not-yet published final rules pursuant to OMB’s authority under Executive Order 12866.

Click here for OMB’s review website.



International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA) Conference (April 8–12, 2019, Greece)

The International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas is a group of international experts dedicated to the protection of marine mammals and their habitats.  Conferences are held every other year. In 2019, ICMMPA is reaching a key milestone:  its 10th anniversary since its foundation and first conference.  The ICMMPA’s fifth conference will take place for the first time in Europe and specifically in the Mediterranean region. Hosting the ICMMPA5 in Greece will provide a unique opportunity to promote the protection of marine animals at the national, Mediterranean, and European level and advance practical solutions to common problems in marine conservation.

Final Rule To List the Taiwanese Humpback Dolphin as Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act

In response to a petition by Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, and WildEarth Guardians, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a final rule to list the Taiwanese humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensistaiwanensis) as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act NMFS is not designating critical habitat for this subspecies because the geographical areas occupied by these dolphins are entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, and NMFS has not identified any unoccupied areas within U.S. jurisdiction that are currently essential to the conservation of the subspecies. This final rule is effective June 8, 2018.

Click here for more details and relevant links.

“Killer Whale Genetics Raise Inbreeding Questions”

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service recently posted an article expressing concern about the effects of inbreeding on the killer whale population in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. The article reads in part as follows:

“A new genetic analysis of Southern Resident killer whales found that two male whales fathered more than half of the calves born since 1990 that scientists have samples from, a sign of inbreeding in the small killer whale population that frequents Washington’s Salish Sea and Puget Sound.”

Click here to read the rest of this article.




2018 African Marine Mammal Colloquium

The following press release discusses the 2018 African Marine Mammal Colloquium.

“For the fifth biennial, the AMMC will be moving out of the Western Cape to another centre of African marine mammal research,Port Elizabeth. In keeping with our theme, we are especially encouraging marine mammal people from elsewhere in Africa to participate. We already have keen interest from a number people outside of South Africa. Also in keeping with our theme we are encouraging participation from marine mammal conservationists and educators. And finally, we are encouraging presentations on exciting new research fields and techniques.

New frontiers in African marine mammalogy

Lawsuit Challenges NMFS’ Alleged Failure to Protect Pacific Humpback Whales Threatened by Fishing Gear, Ship Strikes, Oil Spills

The Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Wishtoyo Foundation has sued the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to protect humpback whale habitat in the Pacific Ocean, where the animals face threats from fisheries, ship strikes and oil spills.

This lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court in San Francisco, aims to force NMFS to designate critical habitat within one year of listing a species as threatened or endangered and to not authorize actions that would damage that habitat. Two Pacific Ocean humpback populations were listed as endangered and a third as threatened in September 2016.

Comment to OMB on BOEM ICR Affecting Marine Mammals and Offshore Oil

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is proposing to renew an information collection with revisions. Interested persons are invited to submit comments to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget on or before April 30, 2018.

BOEM summarized this ICR as follows:

Why Are Whales So Big ?

ScienceDaily recently posted an article that tries to answer this question.  The article begins as follows:

“Anyone who has witnessed majestic whales or lumbering elephant seals in person would be forgiven for associating ocean life with unlimited size in mammals, but new research reveals that mammal growth is actually more constrained in water than on land.

This finding by Stanford researchers is in contrast to previous theories suggesting that pressure on body size should be more relaxed in water, perhaps because of the large environment and ability for animals to float rather than have to support their body weight on legs.

Comment to OMB on Marine Mammal Tissue Bank ICR

The U.S. Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget for clearance them following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C.Chapter 35):

Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Title: Protocol for Access to Tissue Specimen Samples from the National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank.

OMB Control Number: 0648–0468.

Form Number(s): None.

Type of Request: Regular (extension of a currently approved information collection).

Number of Respondents: 25.

Average Hours per Response: Request for tissue sample, 2 hours; specimen submission form, 45 minutes.

Burden Hours: 85.

Eliminate the MMC?

President Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 does not fund the U. S. Marine Mammal Commission. A recent blog in Scientific American protests the elimination of the MMC.  Click here for this article.