DAO 126:247-256 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03179

Database documentation of marine mammal stranding and mortality: current status review and future prospects

Derek K. P. Chan1, Henry C. L. Tsui2, Brian C. W. Kot1,3,* 

1School of Medical and Health Sciences, Tung Wah College, Homantin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, SAR
2Office of the Vice-President (Development and External Relations), City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, SAR
3Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hunghom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, SAR
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Databases are systematic tools to archive and manage information related to marine mammal stranding and mortality events. Stranding response networks, governmental authorities and non-governmental organizations have established regional or national stranding networks and have developed unique standard stranding response and necropsy protocols to document and track stranded marine mammal demographics, signalment and health data. The objectives of this study were to (1) describe and review the current status of marine mammal stranding and mortality databases worldwide, including the year established, types of database and their goals; and (2) summarize the geographic range included in the database, the number of cases recorded, accessibility, filter and display methods. Peer-reviewed literature was searched, focussing on published databases of live and dead marine mammal strandings and mortality and information released from stranding response organizations (i.e. online updates, journal articles and annual stranding reports). Databases that were not published in the primary literature or recognized by government agencies were excluded. Based on these criteria, 10 marine mammal stranding and mortality databases were identified, and strandings and necropsy data found in these databases were evaluated. We discuss the results, limitations and future prospects of database development. Future prospects include the development and application of virtopsy, a new necropsy investigation tool. A centralized web-accessed database of all available postmortem multimedia from stranded marine mammals may eventually support marine conservation and policy decisions, which will allow the use of marine animals as sentinels of ecosystem health, working towards a ‘One Ocean-One Health’ ideal.

KEY WORDS: Cetacean · Monitoring system · Inventory · Stranding network · Stranding response programme

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Cite this article as: Chan DKP, Tsui HCL, Kot BCW (2017) Database documentation of marine mammal stranding and mortality: current status review and future prospects. Dis Aquat Org 126:247-256. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03179

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