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WhaleWatch 2.0 Project

Mission and vision

The mission of our project is to bring best-available science and analyses to support the ecological sustainability and economic viability for U.S. ocean users. With decades of experience in endangered species protection, marine resource management, and oceanographic and species distribution analyses, our research team is working to support the development of innovative management approaches that meet ecological and economic management objectives and mandates.

Blue whales are an Endangered Species , with roughly 1500 whales estimated in the migratory Eastern North Pacific Population off of the U.S. West Coast. This population is threatened by ship strikes, which are the largest source of mortality, as well as bycatch in fishing gear. WhaleWatch 2.0 is a predictive spatial management tool that helps scientists and managers evaluate the most likely times and places that blue whales will be present along the U.S. West Coast in order to inform management decisions and mitigate risk of ship strikes, bycatch, or other threats. This is the latest dynamic model for blue whales. Previous models for blue whales in the California Current Ecosystem include the original WhaleWatch effort and a climatological ensemble model that provides a best seasonal estimate from multiple data sources and modeling approaches.

WhaleWatch 2.0 team

WhaleWatch 2.0 is a consortium of scientists, managers, and members of the shipping industry. The WhaleWatch 2.0 team is made up of scientists from University of California Santa Cruz and Oregon State University and NOAA’s Environmental Resource Division, working in direct collaboration with resource managers and other stakeholders.

Project funding

Funding for the project has been generously provided by the Benioff Ocean Initiative.

Dynamic Ocean Management

Dynamic ocean management is a new management approach that uses real-time and near real-time data to support management responses that can change in space and time, at scales relevant for animal movement and human use. Dynamic ocean management can use diverse analytical approaches (simple to complex), supports climate-resilient fisheries, and is already implemented in many oceans around the world.

How is dynamic ocean management different than traditional ocean management?

Traditional ocean management strategies tend to be static with boundaries that are fixed in space and time. However, static schemes must be large with significant opportunity costs to capture broad-scale oceanic processes for highly migratory species and can be rendered ineffective during extreme ocean events (e.g. species seasonal migrations or shifts of fishing fleets under anomalous ocean conditions). Dynamic ocean management works to do a better job of aligning scales of management to the scales of variability of the features and resources being managed by incorporating real-time information from satellite data, ocean monitoring arrays, bio-geochemical models, and crowd-sourced reports from ocean users into management recommendations that reflect current marine states.

Dynamic ocean management is at the interface of science and management. It captures the best-available science and directs it to meet the needs of resource managers and the fishing industry. What’s exciting about this research is that it puts science and data analytics to work, fundamentally changing the way oceans are managed.

Additional Information

  • Abrahms et al. (2019) Dynamic ensemble models to predict distributions and anthropogenic risk exposure for highly mobile species. Diversity and Distributions. 25(8): 1182-1193. doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12940
  • Hazen et al. (2016) WhaleWatch: a dynamic management tool for predicting blue whale density in the California Current. Journal of Applied Ecology. 54(5): 1415-1428. doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12820.
  • Maxwell et al. (2015) Dynamic ocean management: Defining and conceptualizing real-time management of the ocean. Marine Policy. 58:42-50. doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2015.03.014
The information on this page may be used and redistributed freely, but is not intended for legal use. Neither the data contributors, WhaleWatch 2.0 partner organizations, CoastWatch, NOAA SWFSC, nor any of their employees or contractors, makes any warranty, express or implied, including warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this information. Although it is distributed by the NOAA CoastWatch West Coast Regional Node, this product is solely the responsibility of the WhaleWatch 2.0 project and is not associated with NOAA CoastWatch. For official information about WhaleWatch 2.0 contact Briana Abrahms, Elliott Hazen or Heather Welch.

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