Marine Mammals

 Which way to the seafood buffet?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Humans fish the ocean — but marine mammals gotta eat too! There ARE Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs, where they can forage undisturbed. But how do we decide what regions should be under protection?

Enter Brooke Hodge and her team at the New England Aquarium. They searched for the place with the ideal menu for marine mammal diversity. 

The team analyzed forty years of data from a Marine Protected Area near Massachusetts. They compared it to unprotected regions along the east coast. 

The best place for the marine mammal party? In the Northern Atlantic Ocean! That’s because more species liked to hang out near canyons and the edge of the continental shelf. These drop offs can bring nutrients that feed sea plants and fish to the surface. It’s a super snackbar for ocean dwellers. YUM!

Studies like these will help identify EXCLUSIVE areas for marine mammals to chow down.

Don’t bother trying to get into that fishfry… you’re not on the list!

Reference: Hodge, B. C., Pendleton, D. E., Ganley, L. C., O’Brien, O., Kraus, S. D., Quintana‐Rizzo, E., & Redfern, J. V. (2022). Identifying predictors of species diversity to guide designation of marine protected areas. Conservation Science and Practice.