The ocean waters off North and South Carolina are home to one of the richest diversities of marine mammal species in the United States. People also use these waters for recreation, fishing, industry and research.

Marine mammals are vulnerable to human-related threats such as entanglement, noise pollution, and vessel strike. Because of this, marine mammals are protected by Federal Law, which requires the public, industry, and government to consider how the actions they take might affect these animals and their marine environment.

To provide the best protection for marine mammals, we need to understand more about them, especially those species that are difficult to study because of their deep-diving habits or unknown movement patterns.

The Marine Mammals Passive Acoustics and Spatial Ecology Project, known as MAPS, is the first of its type in the region. MAPS draws on the expertise of researchers and citizen scientists, to fill the gaps in our knowledge. MAPS will focus on the offshore and relatively obscure species, including sperm, beaked, and sei whales, in an attempt to answer questions about their distribution and behavior.

MAPS is a cooperative agreement between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW).

Contributing Partners