2018 Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium (NASRC) Meeting

Seals, Science and Management: Where Research and Reason Meet

Please join us for our next NASRC biennial meeting "Seals, Science and Management: Where Research and Reason Meet."   Successful conservation efforts have resulted in rebounding populations of pinnipeds in the U.S., including seals in the Northwest Atlantic. Increasing numbers have brought many increasing challenges. This one-day meeting will incorporate formal scientific and informal/observational presentations, a panel discussion and a facilitated open community forum and synthesis. This meeting will build upon our previous efforts and prioritize discussion of rebounding pinniped populations and the management challenges they present including:  cooperative research, measurements of recovery, multispecies predation models, how to better connect data, improve discourse and disseminate information.  

The 2018 NASRC meeting is being held with the generous support of 

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Laguna Beach CA

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology Department &

Deputy Director and Vice President of Research and the NASRC community

The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society   


April 27th, 2018   

8:30 am-5:00 pm


UMASS Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), New Bedford, MA




836 South Rodney French Blvd.
New Bedford, Massachusetts 02744-1221


EAST BEACH, East Rodney French Blvd. New Bedford, MA 02744


  • Take I-195 toward New Bedford to Route 18 south.
  • After several sets of lights, Route 18 becomes Water Street, then South Rodney French Boulevard.
  • Continue on South Rodney French Boulevard.
  • You will pass through a hurricane dike and a beach area.
  • SMAST is located at the point of South Rodney French Blvd.


  • Abstract deadline: by April 9th 2018. Please send abstracts to sealresearch@whoi.edu
  • IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING AS A PANELIST, please email sealresearch@whoi.edu
  • Registration deadline: by April 27th, 2018
  • Registration limited to 80 (first come first serve, a waiting list will be generated and participants contacted). If space remains, registration may be possible on site.


Click on the box below and this link will bring you to PMMC for registation. 

Full Registration Fee ($45)    Student Registration Fee ($30)


AGENDA (see top right corner for downloadable PDF)


Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium 2018

Seals Science and Management: Where Research and Reason Meet

April 27th 2018

SMAST New Bedford, MA






8:30- 9:00









Keynote Address

 To ‘Like” or not to “Like”? Is that the questions about seals in a world of constantly changing use and social value?

Sean Hayes







Stakeholder Views of Seals on Nantucket, MA: Lessons learned for coexistence

Jennifer Jackman



Insights to gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) foraging behavior in southern New England using stable isotopes and DNA barcoding

Keith Hernandez



Megaesophagus in maternally dependent harbor seals (Phoca vitulina)

Kathy Zagzebski/ R. Williams



Mycoplasma species isolated from respiratory tissue of phocids in the Gulf of Maine, 2011 - 2017

Katie Pugliares-Bonner



Annual health assessments at gray seal rookeries provide a window into the health of the regional population

Wendy Puryear



The Interspecific Interactions and Habitat Preferences of Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) and Gray Seals (Halichoerus grypus) on Duck Island and Ledges, ME

Kadianne Tomassi



Monitoring harbor seal displacement by grey seals in the Western New York Bight

Paul Sieswerda/ A. Kopelman



Gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) and Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina) in the endless winter

Rob DiGiovanni



Thirty - four years watching seal haul out behavior in southern and downeast Maine

Gale McCullough







An Overview of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Seal Research Program

Kimberly Murray



Genetic Diversity from Pre-bottleneck to Recovery in Sympatric Pinnipeds in the Northwest Atlantic

Sarah Vincze



Contrasting trends in gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) pup production throughout the increasing northwest Atlantic metapopulation

Stephanie Wood/N. den Heyer



First Successful Satellite Tag Deployment on Wild-Captured Harbor Seals in Virginia

Monica DeAngelis



The Roles of an Incidental Take Biologist

Johanna Pedersen/ S. Petrus



Developing standardized protocols for seal surveys to study the occurrence of entanglement in gray seals (Halichoerus grypus atlantica) and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) at New England haul-outs.

Lisa Sette



Passive acoustic monitoring of white sharks reveals contrasting coastal migration and residency patterns off Cape Cod and beyond

Megan Winton



Who’s got seals?

Jack Paar



Pinnipeds and Federal Policy: the good, the bad and the ugly

Sharon Young






Panel Introduction

“Seals, Science, and Management: Where Research and Reason Meet"

The Elephant (seal) in the Room


Kristen Patchett


Panel Discussion

Panel and NASRC Participants: Q&A



Panel Round Up




Valerie Rough Award




Open Conversation

 NASRC: The Plan Ahead


5:20- 5:30

Meeting Synthesis

Priorities, concerns, changing perceptions, future needs and directions








Post-Conference Gathering: Me and Ed's New Bedford, MA





We are asking for both scientific and general audiences talks on seal science and management topics. If you would like to present your topic in a non traditional format, please let us know and we can assist. Presentations will be maximum 12-15 minutes, with an opportunity for short presentations as well. 


For those interested in presenting, please submit an abstract (250 word limit) following this example:


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.


Best Western Dartmouth Inn
737 State Road, North Dartmouth, MA 02747    

Marriott at New Bedford Dartmouth
181 Faunce Corner Rd. North Dartmouth, MA 02747 


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 nasrc.whoi.edu/about. 

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 working groups 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 2015 meeting hosted at Salem State, Salem MA, addressed 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. Despite the diversity of topics, there were many common themes, many of which represented important underlying concepts, data gaps and future directions. The themes resulting include that ecosystems include complex and often cryptic interactions between components, with cumulative and synergistic effects on animals and their environment. Ecological studies therefore need to be conducted at the appropriate spatiotemporal scale and resolution. As we strive to understand the ecological role of seals in the Northwest Atlantic, we also recognize seals can be considered as sentinels of ecosystem health. The second day of this meeting resulted in recommendations from a panel‐facilitated discussion entitled: "Addressing perception vs. reality: how data (or lack of data) affects public perceptions and management decisions." These included many recommendations centered on addressing emerging issues as populations increase. 

This meeting will build upon our previous efforts and prioritize discussion of rebounding pinniped populations and the management challenges they present including:  cooperative research, social science, measurements of recovery, multispecies predation models, how to better connect data, improve discourse and disseminate information. We also will address how NASRC can better achieve our mandate and fullfill our collective objectives.


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

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

2015 Final Workshop Report- Seals and Ecosystem Health 


Last updated: April 25, 2018