Data, the word, is plural. Everyday English slips into treating the word as a singular, data is, but data are. Understanding the biodiversity of the ocean requires data that are very very plural, the effort of thousands of scientists observing thousands of species. OBIS-SEAMAP plays an important role in centralizing the data we have for… Read More


The Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab at Duke University and the University of Exeter, UK are undertaking a collaborative project to support the process of defining marine turtle high use areas, including ways to handle the data that can contribute to answering this question. This pilot effort will focus on loggerhead marine turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Northwest… Read More

Enhancing Strategic Collaborations for the Conservation of Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean Loggerhead Marine Turtles

Duke University, USA and University of Exeter, UK are undertaking a collaborative project to support the process of defining marine turtle high use areas, including ways to handle data that can contribute to answering this question. This pilot effort will focus on loggerhead marine turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean regions. The project aim is to provide opportunities for regional marine turtle experts to bring together their knowledge, data, and input and apply them to conservation issues on a larger scale.

Major themes to discuss include:

1) effective ways to leverage existing and past project results/data (e.g., documented/undocumented processes and criteria at local, regional, international levels, standardized data archival, accessible tools and methods for data processing) for current and future collaborations;

2) processes for defining a criteria and classifications for marine turtle habitat and area use;

3) methods for incorporating empirical data and expert driven knowledge to a given criteria to define marine turtle high use areas; and

4) identifying new short- and long-term priority projects, educational resources, opportunities for students, and funding sources that would contribute to defining marine turtle high use areas.

There are many ways to leverage existing and past project results/data, especially when contributing to initiatives that incorporate large amounts of data from various sources. Researchers can rely on data management applications and services to archive their telemetry tracking data, create public-facing tracking web pages, and have a repository where project managers could be contacted for data sharing and collaboration. However, the process for preserving and sharing valuable tracking data to maximize the benefit they can bring for turtle conservation and management can be made more efficient.

Duke University and University of Exeter will be conducting surveys and hosting workshops to discuss standard practices and recommended improvements that can better meet the needs of highly collaborative projects which aggregate data. To initiate the process, marine turtle experts who have undertaken recent tracking projects will be asked how they manage tracking data and their current data sharing policies. Workshops prioritizing the Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean regions will allow for gathering information applicable to both regions regarding these themes.

Widely distributing this project’s outcomes can spark interest and inform other global marine spatial planning efforts, such as identifying marine turtle high use areas for other regions and species, important marine mammal areas (IMMAs), important bird areas (IBAs), or ecologically or biologically significant areas (EBSAs). Determining appropriate ways to move forward while applying the best available scientific data can help to advance these international efforts.

Region Workshops

Northwest Atlantic Workshop: March 22, 2021, 9 am – 12 pm EDT

Mediterranean Workshop: March 24, 2021, 11 am – 2 pm UTC

Main discussion points:

1. The outcome of the survey on data management and sharing of sea turtle tracking data, and

2. Related topics on loggerhead sea turtles in either the Northwest Atlantic or Mediterranean.

High Use Areas Workshop:

April 22, 2021, 9 am – 11 am EDT / 1 pm – 3 pm UTC

Main discussion points:

1. The outcomes of the two regional workshops, bringing together researchers working in the Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean, and

2. Dive deeper into the process of defining loggerhead high use areas in these regions

A collaboration with Connie Kot and Sarah DeLand (Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment), Drs. Annette Broderick, Brendan Godley, and Alan Rees (University of Exeter, Centre for Ecology and Conservation) and Dr. Matthew Godfrey (Duke University/North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission)

The Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab (MGEL) at Duke University seeks a Postdoctoral Associate or Research Scientist for immediate hire to model spatiotemporal distributions of marine species, particularly marine mammals. We are seeking a highly motivated individual who is interested in modeling marine species distributions for immediate use in U.S. management actions. This is a two-year… Read More

On April 1st, 2019 the MiCO System launches at the 2nd Intergovernmental Conference on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). Underlying the discussions and negotiations for a new international legally binding instrument are important considerations of how areas within and beyond national jurisdictions are connected, highlighted… Read More

The Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO) consortium is a group of over 50 organizations that seeks to fill a major knowledge gap regarding global migratory routes and connected areas for marine mammal, seabird, sea turtle and fish species. Due to their wide-ranging behaviors, migratory species experience a variety of anthropogenic pressures. Combined with conservation strategies that largely fail to consider spatial connectivity over their life cycle, these threats are resulting in declining populations worldwide. 95% of albatross, 87% of assessed migratory sharks species, and 63% of assessed sea turtle subpopulations are listed as Near Threatened or Threatened by the IUCN. Similarly, straddling and highly migratory fish stocks experience twice the rate of overfishing (64% of stocks) as those within a single national jurisdiction. Knowledge on migratory connectivity provided by MiCO will be critical in informing conservation efforts of migratory species in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), particularly via the large number of emerging area-based planning efforts.

Explore MiCO: | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Supported by
Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative International Climate Initiative


The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), through its Marine Minerals Program (MMP), authorizes the use of offshore continental shelf (OCS) sand resources in shore protection and coastal restoration projects. One of the major environmental issues with these projects is the potential for dredging entrainment and mortality of federally protected sea turtles. In accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, BOEM is required to consult with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) for these potential impacts. As a responsible steward of OCS resources, BOEM seeks to minimize adverse environmental effects related to project specific dredging operations through deliberate project planning efforts and implementation of relevant and effective mitigation measures. Historically, BOEM and federal partners have made a significant investment in improving protective measures and best management practices, principally focusing on dredging windows, the use of sea turtle deflecting dragheads, and relocation trawling. However, there has been little effort to analyze and subsequently tailor these mitigation strategies on a project specific level. BOEM and its federal partners need to develop a standardized decision support tool to assess project specific dredging entrainment risk and improve the effectiveness of mitigation planning decisions within state and federal marine mineral resource areas.

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Evaluate and document entrainment risk parameters for dredging activities in the OCS, and
  2. Develop a geographically and temporally based decision support tool to assess project specific dredging entrainment risk and guide mitigation planning decisions within state and federal marine mineral resource areas.

A decision support tool will be developed to evaluate sea turtle entrainment risk relative to OCS dredging activities associated with the MMP. Study methods may include data compilation, literature review and syntheses, geographic information system (GIS) analyses, and coordination with stakeholders. A panel of sea turtle biologists, dredging industry representatives, US Army Corps of Engineers, NMFS, and BOEM scientists will be convened to identify critical data parameters to be considered in the development of a decision support tool. Initial parameters to be considered may include: (1) sand source geomorphology and physical dynamics, (2) sea turtle habitat type/use (i.e. foraging, migrating, reproductive, etc.), (3) dredging intensity and entrainment history, (4) borrow area bathymetry, design, and use plan, and (5) sea turtle distribution, abundance, and behavior (leveraging existing telemetry data). All critical data parameters that directly relate to sea turtle entrainment risk will be identified and weighted based on the significance of their risk contribution. Existing project specific data sets relative to each data parameter will be consolidated and built into the model and relevant external data sets will be identified and leveraged. Initial model outputs would include regional risk classifications of OCS sand sources that could be considered in project and mitigation planning. While the initial tool will be tailored to sea turtles, the framework of the decision support system could accommodate other OCS species of concern (i.e. Atlantic sturgeon).

In collaboration with Doug Piatkowski (BOEM), Steve Raber (Quantum Spatial), Cherie Jarvis (Quantum Spatial), Alexa Ramirez (Quantum Spatial), Jeff Skahill (Quantum Spatial), and Melissa Ladd (NOAA).

Cetaceans are protected worldwide but vulnerable to incidental harm from an expanding array of human activities at sea. Managing potential hazards to these highly-mobile populations increasingly requires a detailed understanding of their seasonal distributions and habitats. Pursuant to the urgent need for this knowledge in U.S. waters of the western North Atlantic and Gulf of… Read More

Evaluating User Needs for Models and Decision Tools to Predict the Impacts of Climate Change on the Marine Environment

Download a PDF of the slides. (12MB)

Or replay the presentation on the Marine Management Forum site.

This was a discussion via the Ecosystem-Based Management Tools Network webinar series on October 30, 2013.

NASAA changing climate has been shown to have broad effects on a variety of living marine resources. Understanding how these changes will impact future distribution, abundance and resilience of marine species is important for implementing ocean resource management plans. However, data on climate rarely are used when forming new regulations, with barriers to incorporation existing at all levels in the decision making process. This webinar seeks to identify barriers to incorporating climate data into the management of living marine resources and to focus on potential solutions.

In addition, there will be a web survey. We are seeking input from marine managers and decision makers to more clearly identify the barriers to using climate data in the management of marine species. The survey will remain active for a week following the webinar.

Papers cited during this talk

Donner, Simon et al. Global assessment of coral bleaching and required rates, Global Change Biology (2005) 11, 2251–2265, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2005.01073.x

Hazen, Elliot, et al. Predicted habitat shifts of Pacific top predators in a changing climate. Nature Climate Change (2012), doi: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1686

Jung, Sukgeun et al. Latitudinal shifts in the distribution of exploited fishes
in Korean waters during the last 30 years: a consequence of climate change Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries (2013), doi: 10.1007/s11160-013-9310-1

Perry, Allison L., et al. Climate Change and Distribution Shifts in Marine Fishes, Science (2005), doi: 10.1126/science.1111322

Pinsky, Malin L. et al. Marine Taxa Track Local Climate Velocities, Science (2013) doi: 10.1126/science.1239352

Whitehead, et al. Diversity of deep-water cetaceans in relation to temperature: implications for ocean wraming. Ecology Letters (2008), doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01234.x

This is project is NASA user-needs assessment NNX11AR56G

DSC00033Over-exploitation of the world’s fish resources has caused serious decline in fish populations, and there is widespread concern that the world oceans will be unable to supply fish products for future generations. Given the importance of marine fisheries for food security throughout the world, this poses a serious threat for coming generations, and we must ask if there will be sufficient seafood for our children and grandchildren.

The Nereus Program was launched on December 6, 2010, to provide scientific advise on these very issues. It is an international research and outreach network, which once fully established will have five leading academic institutions at partners. It is focused on understanding the status of the global ocean and how we can ensure that there will continue to be seafood and a healthy ocean for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

The program will have three main objectives, each considered of equal importance for the overall outcome of the program:

  • Simulating the future ocean – develop scientifically credible simulations of future fish populations and policy options for the world oceans;
  • Capacity building – develop research capacity and international cooperation to provide scientifically informed and practical solutions for managing the oceans to the benefit of future generations;
  • Public awareness – raise public awareness of the state of the oceans and of what the public, the fishing industry, and the policy makers can do to ensure a sustainable future.

Marine Geospatial Ecology Tools (MGET) is a free, open-source geoprocessing toolbox that can help you solve a wide variety of marine research, conservation, and spatial planning problems. MGET can perform tasks such as:

  • Downloading and converting oceanographic data into GIS formats
  • Identifying ecologically-relevant features in remote sensing imagery
  • Fitting, evaluating, and mapping statistical models of species habitat
  • Modeling habitat connectivity by simulating the dispersal of larvae

MGET includes over 250 tools, with new tools added every few weeks. MGET plugs into ArcGIS and is also invokable from Python and other programming languages.

Download MGET and learn more

As part of the NOAA Cetacean Density and Distribution Mapping Working Group, MGEL is developing a cetacean data gap analysis to spatially and temporally determine where data needed to build distribution models are lacking.  This analysis will be used to build new cetacean density models for the US East Coast and Gulf of Mexico and builds on models already developed by MGEL and NOAA under the SERDP program.  These data products and models will help NOAA and other stakeholders better understand the interaction between cetacean species and anthropogenic sound.

For more information see

Funded by NOAAIn collaboration with Sofie Van Parijs (NEFSC), Jolie Harrison (NMFS Protected Species), Jay Barlow, Karin Forney (SWFSC)

Spatio-Temporal Analyses of Bycatch in the New England Groundfish Fishery


New England’s transition to catch share management, via sectors, has created an incentive for fishermen to reduce interactions with non-target species, which they previously discarded under days-at-sea management. For the first time, fishermen are not allowed to discard marketable fish, but instead must count them against their annual quota allocation. Most sectors have low quotas of several overfished species, which, if caught too quickly, closes the fishery and prevents fishermen from harvesting abundant target species. To prevent such closures and the consequent economic hardship to fishers and the economy, it is imperative that sectors be given the tools necessary to limit non-target species interactions and improve fishing efficiency. Targeted spatio-temporal management measures (i.e., fishery closures) are one solution open to sector managers.

This project brings together fishermen, scientists, geospatial analysts, computer programmers, managers, and non-profit organizations to develop tools to help fishermen avoid non-target species through spatio-temporal analysis. The project has the following objectives:

  1. Provide a mechanism to assist fishermen throughout the region in avoiding non-target species that have the potential to shut down their sector(s).
  2. Utilize retroactive data (via logbooks, EVTR, landings, oceanographic data, etc) and real time data (sector reporting data streams) in the analyses to provide near real-time management options.
  3. Synthesize available information for fisheries managers through an analytical framework for the spatio-temporal management of fisheries to reduce non-target species interactions and increase fishing efficiency.
  4. Develop a concrete, user friendly tool that is an extension of the existing Sector Manager Tool.
  5. Increase, or help ensure, economic efficiency within sectors through targeted harvesting that capitalizes on healthy stocks while avoiding weak stocks.
Funded by the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association (CCCHFA)
In collaboration with Melissa Sanderson, Eric Brazer, Karen Ryder