As a part of the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Cascadia is active in responding to strandings of cetaceans and pinnipeds. Primary long-term interests have included:
- Patterns of harbor seal mortality. A publication in Northwestern Naturalist documents harbor seal mortality at Smith Island, one of the larger harbor seal haul out areas in Washington waters.
- Incidence and causes of death of large whales in the Pacific Northwest. This has included examination of gray whales, the most frequent large whale to strand in our waters (see also Cascadia’s North Puget Sound gray whale research and Pacific Coast feeding group (PCFG) gray whale research.
- Trends in contaminants in harbor seals and other marine mammals. This has included tracking changes in levels of PCBs and pesticides using stranded non-starved neonate harbor seals as an indicator (list of reports on contaminant trends)
- Status and population structure of harbor porpoise including use of contaminants as an indicator of different populations along the US West Coast. An Unusual Mortality Event (UME) was declared for this species due to unusually high number of strandings in 2006.
Cascadia collaborates with National Marine Fisheries Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in stranding response and examination of stranded animals. Support for stranding response and research has come through the Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue and Assistance Grants Program.
In addition to stranded marine mammal response, Cascadia responds to reports of unusual marine mammal sightings in the Puget Sound and Washington outer coast.
This is not a comprehensive list of all stranding events, we also post updates on our facebook page.