In the five years following the DWH oil spill, researchers developed population models to estimate how the negative effects of oil on cetacean survival, reproduction, and health affected stock trajectories. They estimated that some stocks would take decades to recover from the oil spill, without any kind of active restoration efforts.

CARMMHA’s goal is to use the best-available new data– whether from our thematic and field projects, other GOMRI projects, or the scientific community as a whole– to update those population models and refine the trajectory predictions. We will also improve the measures of uncertainty for each trajectory. More specifically, we will:

  • Integrate information relevant to health, demography, abundance, and environmental stochasticity from prior studies, including GoMRI and NRDA efforts, with new information from the CARMMHA field and thematic projects.
  • Conduct a formal expert elicitation, modeled after recently developed approaches that examine the population-level consequences of acoustic disturbance on cetaceans, to estimate recovery timeline for survival and reproductive rates.
  • Synthesize new data and information on abundance trends that are emerging from the Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (GoMMAPPS) to inform model predictions.