Gulf of Maine Seals - Populations, Problems and Priorities


May 28-29, 2009
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA

In June of1995 fifty-seven stakeholders met at the New England Aquarium in Boston to identify a full range of issues concerning pinnipeds in the Gulf of Maine. Although times have changed for both human and seal populations many of the issues identified at this meeting remain, and new concerns and interests have developed. Over the years the emergence of technologies and techniques are improving our ability to understand the biology, habitat use and distribution of seal populations.  

Small meetings have taken place over the years, but no formal or informal meeting format currently exists to aid in collaboration, discussion and long term communication of seal research and issues in the Northeast. We are seeking participants from the fishing community, primary pinniped researchers, marine research institutions in the region, animal protection groups, the conservation community, and academics with experience in ethics and the management of wildlife and federal and state regulators responsible for pinniped management to take part in this meeting.

Our purpose is to bring together representatives from key interest groups to facilitate a sharing of information and perspectives that we hope will richly describe relevant issues and their various complexities. We also seek to use this meeting to: provide perspective on the issues and challenges presented by pinniped populations in the northeast, improve communication among stakeholders and begin to develop tools to address the most pressing issues. 


Population Consequences of Acoustic Disturbance on Marine Mammals

8-10 September 2010
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA



Erica Fleishman
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
University of California, Santa Barbara
(805) 893-7352
Peter Tyack
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA



Amanda Hansen
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA

Draft Agenda

Day 1

Tuesday, 27 April

0800 – 0830

Continental Breakfast & Coffee

0830 – 0900

Introduction to the Workshop & Participants


Measurements and Modeling of Human Diving Physiology

0900 - 0915

Paul Weathersby; Decompression Sickness in humans

0915 – 0945

Alf Brubakk; Why do experts use sound?

0945 - 1015

John Fitz-Clarke; Decompression risk analysis of human breath-hold diving

1015 – 1030

Coffee Break

1030 - 1200

Discussion / Q&A

Points to discuss:

            *What is DCS?

            *How do we determine DCS in breath-hold divers?

            *Bubbles and DCS, cause and effect?

            *Bubbles and N2 load?

At the end of the discussion, make a list of topics for further discussion in day 2 or for development of further research in day 3. If discussion remains lively, it can continue in plenary mode over lunch.

1200 – 1300



Breath-hold diving animals: Behavioral Ecology of Deep diving toothed whales

1300 – 1330

Peter Tyack; Dive patterns of beaked whales (with brief consideration of sperm and pilot whales)

1330 – 1400


Points to discuss:

*How do beaked whale dive patterns differ from other species; duration, depth, repeated diving

            *Abundance and Distribution of beaked whales world-wide

            *Do beaked whale dives often exceed their aerobic dive limit?


Veterinary pathology of stranded/bycaught marine mammals

1400 - 1430

Paul Jepson; Reviewing the pathological evidence for gas embolism in cetaceans

1430 – 1500

Yara Bernaldo/Antonio Fernandez; TBA

1500 – 1515

Coffee Break

1515 – 1545

Michael Moore/Sophie Dennison; Visualizing the effects of pressure on gases in bycaught and stranded marine mammals.

1545 – 1700+

Discussion 75-90 min

            *pathological findings and DCS symptoms in terrestrial animals and humans

            *the issue of post mortem effects and decomposition?

            *bubble tissue distribution and could it be used to determine inert gas load?

At the end of discussion, make a list of topics for further discussion in day 2 or for development of further research in day 3.

1700 – 1715

End Day 1


Dinner in Falmouth; TBA



Day 2

Wednesday, 28 April

0830 – 0900

Continental Breakfast / Coffee


Measurements and Modeling of Diving Physiology in Marine Mammals

0900 - 0930

Terrie Williams; Marine Mammal Diving Physiology

0930 – 1000

Andreas Fahlman; Using dive data to predict blood and tissue N2 levels; can theoretical models teach us anything?

1000 – 1030

Dorian Houser; Review of empirical N2 measurements in diving marine mammals

1030 – 1045

Coffee Break

1045 – 1230

Discussion 105 min

            *Bubbles and DCS

            *inert gas tension during breath-hold diving

            *what variables are the most important for inert gas exchange

            *what are some possible physiological responses to sonar that may change risk?

*what are some possible behavioral responses to sonar that may change risk?

            *species differences in risk factors

1230 – 1330


1330 - 1700

Continue discussion if ongoing; When this discussion done, use whole group to build a list of critical uncertainties, and develop agenda for Day 3 for exploring new research directions to address these uncertainties.

1700 – 1715

End Day 2


Dinner in Falmouth; TBA



Day 3

 Thursday, 29 April

0830 – 0900

Continental Breakfast / Coffee

0900 – 1700

Follow agenda developed in Day 2 to define specific research approaches for addressing critical uncertainties.

1700 – 1715

End Day 3

Deadlines and Registration

Registration deadline October 15th 2011
Poster/talk deadline September 30th 2011

Registration is limited to 40 persons, so register now.