Marine Mammal Commission Scientists Review Effects of Climate Change on U.S. Marine Mammals

Vicki Cornish May 2, 2022

Scientists at the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission have published a review of the evidence for effects of climate change on marine mammals that occur in U.S. waters. Climate change impacts on Arctic marine mammals are best known, but have also been documented throughout U.S. waters, including temperate and sub-tropical regions. While many of the observed effects had been predicted, some unforeseen effects have also been documented, such as the dramatic loss of pupping/nursing habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals due to sea level rise and severe storms. Commission scientists concluded that detecting and mitigating the threats to marine mammals from climate change will require some realignment of research and monitoring priorities, coupled with rapid and flexible management that includes both conventional and novel conservation interventions.

The review’s full citation is Gulland, F. M. D., J. D. Baker, M. Howe, E. LaBrecque, L. Leach, S. E. Moore, R. R. Reeves, and P. O. Thomas. 2022. A review of climate change effects on marine mammals in United States waters: Past predictions, observed impacts, current research and conservation imperatives. Climate Change Ecology 3:100054.

The Commission’s FY 2022 request for grant proposals focusing on climate change effects on marine mammals closed on April 13. Look for which proposals were selected for funding in our next newsletter! Details at