Honors College
 

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Major

Marine Science

Advisor(s)

Kristina Cammen

Committee Members

Mark Brewer, Carly Sponarski, Joshua Stoll, Dominique Walk

Graduation Year

May 2021

Publication Date

Winter 12-2020

Abstract

For hundreds of years the state of Maine has been home to pinniped populations. While these populations experienced heavy pressure from humans, they became federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Actin 1972. The Act ultimately included language to create the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. This program has allowed for stranding networks to form to respond to stranded animals and collect data from these animals. Long term datasets have been produced by these stranding networks, providing a valuable resource for studying patterns and trends in marine mammal health. I utilized these datasets for my analysis of stranding trends and human interaction (HI) occurrences using data collected from stranded harbor (Phoca vitulina), harp (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and gray (Halichoerus grypus) seals from 2007 to 2019 in Maine. As part of this analysis, I developed a new classification scheme for defining HI, which focuses on breaking down harassment based on the type of harassment and the risks that come with it. HI, and harassment in particular, presents a multitude of problems that affect pinnipeds on both an individual and population scale, while also presenting a risk to humans who interact with these mammals. This analysis will provide insight into where and which HI is occurring in Maine, helping us inform stranding networks on where to focus effort in mitigating human interaction, as well as how strandings and human interaction impact marine mammal health and larger trends relate to global patterns.

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