Makah marine mammal stranding office receives grant

NEAH BAY — The Makah tribe has received $50,868 from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries to help fund investigations of marine mammal stranded on the reservation’s beaches.

The award announced last week is among 42 grants totaling more than $3.7 million nationwide to recover and treat stranded marine mammals, collect data for scientific research on marine mammal health and support rehabilitation and data collection facilities.

The two-person Makah office — a biologist and a coordinator — is part of a national network set up to ensure response to sick, injured and dead marine mammals.

It covers the coastline of the Makah reservation and often also responds to strandings reported on Strait of Juan de Fuca beaches as far east as Port Angeles, as well as helping other agencies when needed, said Jonathan Scordino, marine mammal biologist, who oversees it.

The Makah office was established in 2008 and has received annual John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance grants from NOAA Fisheries since, the biologist said.

Before the office was established, about five marine animals were reported stranded, sick or dead on Makah beaches annually, Scordino said.

“In the last three years, we’ve seen over 30 a year and are much better at documenting why they died,” he said.

Scordino conducts necropsies and collects tissue samples from animals found dead and sends them to a pathologist in British Columbia who investigates the disease processes.

“There are no clear patterns of anything we’ve seen so far,” Scordino said, explaining that data from many areas is sent to NOAA.

“I have only this small sliver of the pie of all the information,” he said.

The Makah workers also have helped free whales tangled in fishing gear.

Also receiving Prescott Grants this year are The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, $79,177; Orca Network in Greenbank, $84,475; the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in Olympia, $100,000; Portland State University in Portland, Ore., $99,954; and Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. $99,996.

Local governments, tribes or nonprofits are set up to respond to marine mammal stranding reports, “so you get coverage throughout all of our coastlines,” Scordino said.

To report a marine mammal stranding on the Makah reservation, phone 360-640-0569 or e-mail

The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, based in Port Angeles, investigates marine mammal strandings reported to 360-457-6622, ext. 20.

The East Jefferson County Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Port Townsend can be reached at 360-385-5582, ext.103

The Olympic Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Association in Joyce is at 360-301-2175

Strandings also can be reported to the Olympic National Park at 360-565-3115.

Reports also can be made to NOAA at 206-526-4747.

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