The Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS) II is the continuation of a study to assess the abundance, distribution, ecology, and behavior of marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds throughout the U.S. Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). AMAPPS II represents a collaboration between BOEM, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the U.S. Navy to develop models and associated tools to provide seasonal, spatially explicit density estimates incorporating habitat characteristics of marine mammals, turtles, and seabirds in the western North Atlantic Ocean from Maine to the Florida Keys.
Broadly, the goals of AMAPPS II are to place these creatures in an ecosystem context and to provide spatially explicit density estimates in a format that can be used when making marine resource management decisions. Achieving these objectives will provide enhanced data to managers that are essential to supporting conservation initiatives mandated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Because marine ecosystems are complex and involve dynamic assemblages of many co-existing species, a suite of data collection and analytical techniques are being used to understand these marine ecosystem processes and achieve the AMAPPS II’s objectives. To enumerate distribution and abundance, the following types of data are collected: visual sightings of cetaceans, seabirds, sea turtles, and seals from shipboard and aerial surveys; acoustic detections of vocalizing cetaceans and fish from ship-towed and bottom-mounted passive acoustic recorders; and location/depth information telemetered to satellites from radio tags affixed to turtles, seals, and cetaceans.
Satellite-tagged weaned gray seal pup (Halichoerus grypus grypus). (Credit: Sophie Whoriskey, Mystic Aquarium, authorized via NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) to conduct seal research activities during the study under Permit No. 17670-02 issued to the NEFSC by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Protected Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Use Permit #53514-130003).