To provide the best protection for marine mammals we need to understand more about them, especially understudied species. The first project of its type in the region, MAPS draws on the expertise of scientists, industry, and the public, to fill the gaps in our knowledge about the deep diving species like sperm and beaked whales, and certain baleen whales such as sei which are difficult to study, but can be impacted by human activities.
MAPS is researching marine mammals on the outer continental shelf, shelf-break, and deep ocean waters off North and South Carolina.
This area hosts some of the highest diversity of marine mammals within U.S. waters. Many species found here are also found in U.S. Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska waters, allowing the information from this study to be applied to many other regions in the United States.
MAPS is interested in several marine mammal species that are not well understood. Below you will find pictures of a few of those species.
Click on a species in the gallery below to learn more. Photo Credit: NOAA (unless otherwise noted).
Field research will be conducted on the R/V Song of the Whale and will include methods such as:
- Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) – If we can’t see them maybe we can hear them.
- Animal Tagging – Tracking where the animals go and how deep they dive.
- Visual Surveys – Looking for animals when they surface.
- Software Development – Analyzing data back at the lab.
- Citizen Science – Scientists can’t be everywhere so we need help from you!
A researcher tagging a right whale, Eubalaena glacialis.
R.V. Song of the Whale is a 21 meter research vessel owned by Marine Conservation Research International. It has an elevated A-frame for visual surveys and outriggers for towing hydrophone arrays with a dedicated computer room for acoustic detection. This vessel is one of the quietest marine research vessels in the world, allowing it to operate with minimal disturbance to marine life.
If you’re curious where the SOW is you can check out its current position here.