What is the Marine Mammal Stranding Network?
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 was enacted in response to increasing concerns among scientists and the public that significant declines in some species of marine mammals were caused by human activities. The Act established a national policy to prevent marine mammal species and population stocks from declining beyond the point where they ceased to be significant functioning elements of the ecosystems of which they are a part. Nowhere else in the world had a government made the conservation of healthy and stable ecosystems as important as the conservation of individual species.
As part of the MMPA a network of volunteers was established covering every mile of coastline in the United States. These volunteers were authorized through a Letter of Authorization from NOAA to respond to dead and live marine mammals that came ashore on US beaches. Since the inception of the volunteer program, the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network has grown to become a vital contributor to scientific research and conservation of marine mammals. The primary ways in which the Stranding Network contributes to research and convervation is through the response to and examination of dead marine mammal carcasses on US beaches. Marine mammal carcasses are examined on the beach, and if fresh will usually be brought in for a thorough necropsy (an animal autopsy).
The Long Marine Lab Marine Mammal Stranding Network responds to dead seals and sea lions (pinnipeds) and whales, dolphins, and porpoises (cetaceans) in Santa Cruz County. We also serve as the rehabiliation center in the rare event of a live stranded dolphin or porpoise.