DAO prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03179

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

Derek K. P. Chan, Henry C. L. Tsui, Brian C. W. Kot*

*Email: briankot@yahoo.co.uk

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 developed unique standard stranding response and necropsy protocols to document and track stranded marine mammal demographic, 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 and selected, focusing on published live and dead marine mammal strandings and mortality database and information released from stranding response organizations (i.e. online updates, journal articles and annual stranding reports). Databases that have not been published in 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. Discussion on results, limitations and future prospects of database development were included. Future prospects of database reflected 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 conservation and policy decisions in ocean, which allowing the use of marine animals as sentinels of ecosystem health, and working towards a ‘One Ocean-One Health’ ideal.