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NOAA Announces New Marine Mammal Stranding Response Organization in Nantucket

Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) that beached and died on Nantucket's Cisco Beach on 12/25/2014. From right, Sgt. Keith Robinson, MA Environmental Police, Scott Leonard, and volunteer Cheryl Samsel.

Today, February 9, 2018, NOAA Fisheries announces that Marine Mammal Rescue Nantucket is now an authorized marine mammal stranding response organization for Nantucket, Tuckernuck, and Muskeget Islands.

After four years of no stranding coverage on Nantucket and the outer islands, Marine Mammal Rescue Nantucket (known as MMRACK, after ACK – the call letters for Nantucket Airport) fills an important gap in the GARFO network. Led by Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket CEO Scott Leonard, who spent more than a decade working as a stranding volunteer with New England Aquarium, MMRACK will respond to both live and dead whales, dolphins, and seals. In addition to assessing and providing transportation for animals in need of treatment, Leonard’s team, which consists of seasoned volunteers who have worked or trained with the New England Aquarium, will also perform necropsies (animal autopsies) on dead animals.

“Nantucket is a unique place with a rich marine mammal history,” says Leonard. “MMRACK’s mission is to provide public education and outreach with the focus on raising awareness of human and marine mammal interaction, while providing humane care to our marine species. We are looking forward to being part of the network, and plan on working closely with International Fund for Animal Welfare, Marine Mammals of Maine, U.S. Coast Guard, Massachusetts Environmental Police, and other regional partner organizations.”

NOAA Fisheries looks forward to working with MMRACK to increase stranding response capabilities on Nantucket, and to help with monitoring marine mammal populations and health.

“Nantucket is an important area for marine mammal populations, particularly gray seals that breed and pup there,” says Mendy Garron, NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region Marine Mammal Stranding Response Coordinator. “Having a stranding response organization on the island will help us track the health and welfare of these populations and help reduce conflicts through education and outreach.”

Please report stranded marine mammals on Nantucket, Tuckernuck, and Muskeget to the Marine Mammal Rescue Nantucket Hotline: 833-667-6626.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175