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New Marine Mammal Stranding Response Implementation Plan Announced for New York

For Immediate Release
February 28, 2017

Jennifer Goebel, NOAA Fisheries, jennifer.goebel@noaa.gov617-978-9175
Rachel Bosworth, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, rachel@rachelbosworth.com631-220-1220
Charles Bowman, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, 631-369-9840


Today, NOAA Fisheries, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, and the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation announce the release of a new plan to increase and enhance marine mammal stranding response capacity on Long Island. This new plan is the result of months of discussion on capacity, resources, roles, and responsibilities.

"As marine mammal stranding trends increase and change in complexity in New York waters, it has become clear that we needed to re-evaluate and strengthen the capacity of the stranding response community in New York," says Mendy Garron, NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region's marine mammal stranding coordinator. "We are pleased to announce that a new organization, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), will be responding to live large whale strandings and collecting valuable data from dead marine mammals."

In addition, AMCS, led by Chief Scientist and veteran marine mammal responder Rob DiGiovanni, will conduct research projects, health assessments, satellite tracking, and necropsies on large whales. AMCS will also be available to support disentanglement efforts on marine mammals and sea turtles. AMCS and their partners will use data they collect to better understand wildlife behaviors, health of populations, effects of pollution and other human threats, and how marine mammals and sea turtles respond in the wild.

"As our mission is to promote conservation of the marine environment through action, we understand how important partnerships are to successfully preserve and protect the environment," says DiGiovanni. "With the expanded stranding network, support from local organizations like Fire Island National Seashore, and the crucial support of the public, we look forward to enhancing New York's stranding response efforts."

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, which has historically been the primary stranding response organization for New York, will continue to fill a vital role in marine mammal response effort. Riverhead Foundation will respond to live seals, porpoises, sea turtles, and dolphins in distress. Charles Bowman, President of the Riverhead Foundation says, "We remain committed to the welfare of New York's marine mammal and sea turtle populations, and look forward to strengthening partnerships with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society and NOAA. These new developments will allow us to focus efforts on live animal response, which has always been a large undertaking."

NOAA Fisheries will continue to work with emergency response programs at the federal level to incorporate large whale stranding response into existing emergency response plans that involve federal, state, local governments, and community partners. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will also assist in the coordination of state resources.

Please report stranded marine mammals and sea turtles in New York waters to the new NY Marine Animal Rescue Hotline: 631-369-9829. Your call will then be directed to the appropriate response organization based on the condition of the animal. 

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About NOAA Fisheries
NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the stewardship of the nation's ocean resources and their habitat. We provide vital services for the nation: productive and sustainable fisheries, safe sources of seafood, the recovery and conservation of protected resources, and healthy ecosystems-all backed by sound science and an ecosystem-based approach to management.

About Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is a rescue and rehabilitation organization that promotes marine conservation. Our mission is to preserve and protect the marine environment through conservation efforts including education and research. As a 501(c)3 non-profit, we are the primary responders for sick or injured seals, sea turtles, dolphins and porpoises. 

About the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society
The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society's (AMCS) mission is to promote conservation of the marine environment through action. This is accomplished through education, research, and response. As a non-profit organization, AMCS conducts research projects within the marine environment, and responds to live whales, and dead porpoises, dolphins, and sea turtles in the northeast region. Partnering with other organizations within the stranding network, AMCS is supported by the Specially Trained Animal Response Team, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.