Past Workshops

2015 Final Workshop Report- Seals and Ecosystem Health

The Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium grew out of a series of workshops that included scientists, resource managers, and recreational fishermen to address issues and concerns related to increasing seal populations along the New England coast.

Recent increases in local seal abundance have led to concerns about fisheries and other interactions between human and seal populations. The urgency of documenting, understanding, and mitigating these interactions has become more apparent, as has the need to improve our understanding of the ecological role of seals in the northeast United States. This encompasses issues such as: how they live, where they go, what they eat, their health and illnesses, and interactions with the world—including humans—around them.

Related Links

2011 Final Workshop Report- Gulf of Maine Seals: Fisheries Interactions and Integrated Research

2015 Final Workshio Report-Seals and Ecosystem Health

2015 Seals and Ecosystem Health at Salem State, MA

The Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium (NASRC) held its 2015 meeting at Salem State (Salem, MA). The focus of this meeting was “Seals and Ecosystem Health.” This two day meeting incorporated formal scientific and informal/observational presentations as well as a second day workshop and synthesis component. T


Salem State MA
Ellison Campus Center, North Campus
ECC- Martin Luther King Room (Day 1) and the The Underground (Day 2)
1 Meier Drive, Salem, MA 01970
Ellison Campus Center: Metro and Underground

 To learn more about NASRC, go to, contact or



Day 1, May 1st 2015 -Ellis Campus Center, Martin Luther King Room













NASRC Steering Committee


Keynote Address

Seals and Ecosystem Health

Padraig Duignan



Sponsored Salem State University Biology Department




North Atlantic grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) may be an underappreciated reservoir host for Influenza A Virus

Wendy B. Puryear



Muskeget: Raw, Restless, Relentless Island

Crocker Snow, Jr.



Weanlings, Natural Mortalities and presentation of disease (or "Weanlings Don't Suck")

S. R. Williams



A Parasite-Pinniped-Fisheries Interaction: Codworm (Pseudoterranova) in Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) in the Gulf of Maine

Lauren A. Bamford



Whalenet: Twenty years of satellite tagging

Michael Williamson







Gray seal occurrence and human interaction observations at the Chatham Fish Pier

CT Harry



Regional Pinniped Education and Outreach Strategy

Mendy Garron



Preliminary observations on habitat use, residency, and site fidelity of white sharks in the coastal waters of Cape Cod, MA.

Gregory B. Skomal



Seal and Canid Interactions in SE Massachusetts

Betty Lentell



Long term study on the feeding ecology of northeast U.S. Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor)

Frederick W. Wenzel



Characterizing bite marks for the identification of depredation sources in the Northeast sink-gillnet fishery

Laura Sirak



Two decades of Aerial surveys and Satellite tracking of harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) and gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) in Southern New England, Connecticut and New York Waters

Robert Di Giovanni







Conflicts in Coastal Coexistence: A Qualitative Investigation of Seals and Fisheries Interactions on Cape Cod

Kali Pereira



Case Study of Cape Cod: Seals and Stakeholders

Anja MacDonald



Suitability of Mount Desert Rock, Maine for grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) parturition

Rebecca A. Frowine



Exploring Seal Sense as Inspiration for Technology Development

Christin Murphy




NASRC Steering Committee





Day 2, May 2nd 2015- Ellison Campus Center, Underground Room 

Time    Title  Presenter
9-9:15 Announcements     
9:15-9:30 Valerie Rough Award    
9:30-10:30 Keynote Address  Marine Mammals and Ecosystem Functioning: what can recovering seal populations teach us?  Peter Corkeron
10:30-10:45 Coffee    
11:00-11:15 Panel Discussion Addressing perception vs reality: how data (or lack of data) affects public perceptions and management decisions.   
11:15- 11:30 Introduction to panelists    Jennifer Jackman, Chris Reeves, Gordon Waring, Peter Corkeron
11:30-12:30 Lunch    
12:30-3:00 Panel questions and discussion    
3:00-3:15 Coffee    
3:15-3:45 Panel Round Up    
3:45-5:00 Meeting Synthesis Priorities, concerns, changing perceptions,future needs and directions  

For those interested in presenting, please submit an abstract following this example on the registration page:


Monitoring seal depredation in the Nantucket Sound weir fishery
Nichols, O.C1,2, E. Eldredge3, and S.X. Cadrin1

1 UMass School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) Dartmouth MA, USA

2Center for Coastal Studies, Provincetown MA, USA.

3Chatham Fisheries/Monomoy Trap Co., Chatham MA, USA

Gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) have been observed feeding on fish weir catches in Nantucket Sound (Massachusetts, northeast USA).  Partially consumed longfin inshore squid (Loligo pealeii) and finfish in the nets recorded in logbooks are attributable to seal depredation.  A Dual-frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON) was deployed in a weir for six ~24-hour periods in May and June 2009 to monitor diel patterns of squid and fish catches, as well as seal presence and behavior.  Seal occurrence in the weir was observed throughout 24-hour periods, most frequently at night.  Observations of seal and target species behavior indicated that seal presence likely affected the efficiency of the weir, disrupting the passage of schooling squid and finfish into the catch chamber.  The species composition of catch and prey remnants in the weirs will be analyzed to examine seal prey preference, and photo-identification studies are planned to determine if random individual seals raid the weirs or if there is individual specialization by a select few.  The above data will be used to inform the design of gear modifications to reduce depredation by excluding seals while maintaining catches of squid and fish.


Since 2009, a series of workshops and meetings supported by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Marine Mammal Center (WHOI MMC) have successfully allowed for conversations between various stakeholders on pinniped issues. One of the primary objectives of the first meeting was to bring together representatives of key interest groups from the U.S. and Canada to facilitate sharing of information and perspectives that describe relevant issues and related complexities. This meeting focused discussion on the challenges presented by pinniped populations in the northeast and improved communication. In addition we also started the process of developing tools to address the most pressing issues related to pinnipeds. 

The second smaller meeting held in 2011, supported by the WHOI MMC and hosted at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS), facilitated open discussion on seals among fishermen, scientists and managers. The forum format successfully encouraged discussion on stakeholder concerns as well integrative research that could address some of those concerns.  From ideas presented at the first meeting and input from attendees at this second meeting, the Marine Animal Identification Network (MAIN) developed and collaborative research on fisheries and seals was initiated.  Technical reports for these two meeting were peer reviewed.  The reports can be found at 

An important primary objective of both meetings was to establish an entity to aid in collaborations, discussion and long-term communication of seal research and priorities in the northeast region. Our primary objective has become a reality with the creation of the Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium (NASRC) and the development of MAIN. Since the creation of the consortium, NASRC has participated in outreach and educational activities, including interviews in radio and various news media, as well as scientific conference and school presentations. NASRC has also provided expertise for a local grey seal symposium and enabled collaborative science with large scale participation in seal tagging studies. In addition to MAIN, direct projects of the consortium include a much referenced study on public health, water quality and the effect of seal haul locations. The consortium also organized a SeaSketch webinar to increase exposure of new technologies useful in ocean planning and collaborative research.

In April 2013 a small organizational meeting of 30 participants was held at Tufts Veterinary School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, MA. The primary focus of this meeting was on defining research priorities and forming committees for each of the defined research priority areas. The meeting was characterized by active participation of attendees and entailed further discussions on animal-human conflict. Significant discussions on the structure and function of NASRC as a consortium and as a community were also conducted. Following this meeting, a smaller meeting on public relations and media outreach was held at WHOI. This meeting consisted of participants interested in messaging “talking points” and producing outreach material. The half day workshop resulted in a “frequently asked questions” section vetted by consortium participants posted to the NASRC website and a better sense of how to address media given the various stakeholders represented in the consortium.

Our current meeting addresses a diversity of topics encompassing the relationship between seals and health in the context of both the relationship of seals to ecosystem health and the health of pinnipeds as sentinel species. This two day meeting and workshop will provide a day of scientific talks and a workshop component as well as synthesis of ideas and assessment of emerging priorities. We also would like to invite a non-traditional way of presenting observational information through video, images or other media that may shed light on new information as well as share anecdotal occurrences.




- See more at:
2009 Final Workshop Report- Gulf of Maine Seals: populations, problems and priorities - See more at:



Last updated: March 8, 2019