Assessing the potential of Important Marine Mammal Areas to address connectivity and promote marine mammal conservation


Halpin, Patrick N.


Dunn, Daniel C.

Alberini, Amalia





Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences


This study examines and identifies the potential of marine mammal scientific data tools, namely the Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) and the Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO) system, can have in contributing towards advancing current knowledge on marine mammals. This report examines how these tools can significantly improve the synthesis and availability of existing marine mammal data in different ocean regions, using two case studies, the Mediterranean Sea and the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Chapter 1 integrates the migration data stemming from the MiCO system and other available data on the two main migratory species, the sperm and fin whales to develop hypotheses for their migratory patterns in the Mediterranean Sea. The existing data is combined with the IMMAs designed for the two species in the region to identify the migration status and connectivity between these areas. Based on the findings, we propose scientific methodologies to be conducted to better account for the entire life-history of key migratory species. Chapter 2 assesses the potential of IMMAs in strengthening existing scientific knowledge and promoting marine mammal conservation at the national scale using two case studies in Palau, in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. This study represents an initial attempt to examine the potential of establishing an IMMA to foster and advance marine mammal research and to provide the baseline for management decisions for marine mammal conservation in a poor-data region. This is the first study done to explore how the presence of IMMAs in an ocean region where limited data exists can contribute to increasing and complementing science, policy, and management efforts to address existing knowledge gaps on marine mammals. Based on the main gaps identified, general and specific recommendations at all levels are provided to address main threats on marine mammal species. Overall, this study provides evidence for the first time that the MiCO system and IMMA process, if combined and fully integrated, can contribute to a more comprehensive and holist understanding of the dynamic nature of marine mammals and ultimately to the design of area-based management planning for the effective conservation of marine mammal habitats in the oceans.





marine mammals, migration, IMMAs, area-based management, Mediterranean Sea, connectivity


Assessing the potential of Important Marine Mammal Areas to address connectivity and promote marine mammal conservation


Master's project




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