DISTRIBUTION OF HIGHLY MIGRATORY MARINE MAMMALS AND SEABIRDS IN THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC: ARE EXISITNG MARINE PROTECTED AREAS IN THE RIGHT PLACE?
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To date, only five marine protected areas (MPAs) have been established along the West Coast of the United States, none of which extend more than 30 nautical miles from shore. These areas do not afford habitat protection for a number of highly migratory and often endangered pelagic seabird and cetacean species found in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean. Using sightings data for fourteen species from a Minerals Management Service Computer Database Analysis System, I analyzed species distribution based on oceanographic season (countercurrent, upwelling, oceanic), year (El Nino, La Nina, neutral), patchiness, bathymetry (shelf, shelf-break, slope, pelagic), and index of dispersion (Gx). The species density data were also compared to areas of existing MPAs to determine how well current MPAs protect these species. The results indicate that current MPAs do not protect the habitats of highly migratory species. I therefore compared existing MPA coverage to suggested MPA locations and found much stronger protection in the suggested areas. Recommendations include not only general areas for improved protection, such as the North Bend, Oregon region, but also specific season and bathymetric features to protect as hotspots within the larger regions.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
SubjectMarine Protected Areas (MPAs)
United States of America (USA)
Northeastern Pacific Ocean.
Minerals Management Service Computer Database Analysis System
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