Calling for support of an American legacy: Marine mammals
The waters and dolphins in Cape Cod are capturing attention on a worldwide scale, but unfortunately not for a positive reason. The mass stranding of more than 100 dolphins on the coastline of the Cape is a tragedy that has rescuers from IFAW working tirelessly.
On Friday, we will share these efforts with our leaders in Washington at a Congressional briefing.
Katie Moore, who leads our rescue team, will brief members of Congress and their staff on the mass stranding, providing a first-hand account of the response in Cape Cod and the critical need for federal funding across stranding networks as we work to save these dolphins and determine the cause of the strandings.
When I say critical, I mean critical.
Just like the animals we are trying to save, many of the federal funds that we are using in this effort are in danger. Our rescuers and scientists have been able to respond quickly to these events, thanks to Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Act, which, for the past 20 years, has organized the stranding networks nationwide and sets best practices for rescuers. Included within the program is the John H. Prescott Standing Grant Program which provides necessary funding to the stranding response teams nationwide. This relatively inexpensive and highly effective grant program is on the verge of being cut from the budget by Congress—a decision that would prove detrimental to stranding networks across the country. Without this successful program, scientists would not be able to readily respond to tragic strandings like the ones on Cape Cod or study the anthropogenic and natural threats to these marine species.
Other vital marine animal protection programs are also struggling for survival, like the Unusual Mortality Event (UME) program. Without this initiative, which helps analyze increasing mortalities within marine mammal populations, animal rescue teams would be faced with mass mortalities with no explanation. The funds for this type of program are dwindling and without support from Congress could disappear, putting not only marine animals in danger but people too. If scientists do not have the funds to determine the cause of a mass mortality event, there could be a threat to public health without anyone knowing.
On Friday, as Katie sits in Washington, we urge Congress to remember that ever since President Nixon first signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act four decades ago, this country’s leadership has proudly supported efforts to protect the animals that swim in our waters. Now we must uphold the funding and programs that are vital to see this protection through.