Habitat-based Marine Mammal Density Models for the U.S. Atlantic: Latest Versions

A Collaboration Led By Marine Geospatial Ecology Laboratory / Duke University

Collaborators: Northeast Fisheries Science Center/NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Fisheries Science Center/NOAA Fisheries, Dept. of Biology and Marine Biology, UNC Wilmington, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Center for Coastal Studies, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, New England Aquarium, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources, New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Tetra Tech, HDR



The Duke Marine Geospatial Ecology Laboratory leads an ongoing collaboration of federal, state, academic, and independent research organizations who pool scientific data and expertise to develop marine mammal species density models spanning the U.S. east coast and southeast Canada. The models estimate absolute density, rendered as maps of the number of individual animals per 100 square kilometers, by statistically correlating sightings reported on shipboard and aerial surveys with oceanographic conditions. Since its initial publication in 2016, the project has expanded to utilize over 2.7 million linear kilometers of survey effort collected between 1992-2019, yielding density maps for over 30 species and multi-species guilds. This page lists the latest available models and provides links to download their GIS files and documentation and explore them in an interactive online mapper. Many models were updated in 2017 or 2018 using newly available data. The next comprehensive revision that will update all models is scheduled for spring of 2022, in coordination with the U.S. Navy’s next major environmental planning cycle for the region. The model for North Atlantic right whale has been updated more frequently, most recently in early 2021, in response to NOAA’s needs. To learn more about individual models and their updates, please review the documentation included in the download links and feel free to contact us with questions (email jason.roberts@duke.edu).


Creative Commons LicenseThese files are © 2015-2021 by the Duke University Marine Geospatial Ecology Laboratory and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. If you use them in a scientific publication or technical report, we kindly request that you cite our 2016 journal publication and the relevant follow-on reports.

Latest Models

To download all models in a single zip file, click here (1.1 GB).

Modeled Taxon Scientific Name Version Released Links
Atlantic spotted dolphin Stenella frontalis 8 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Atlantic white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus acutus 3 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus 1.3 2015-09-26 DownloadMapperHistory
Bryde's whale Balaenoptera edeni 1.3 2015-09-26 DownloadMapperHistory
Clymene dolphin Stenella clymene 2 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Cuvier's beaked whale Ziphius cavirostris 6 2017-08-10 DownloadMapperHistory
Dwarf and pygmy sperm whales Kogia spp. 4 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
False killer whale Pseudorca crassidens 1.2 2015-09-26 DownloadMapperHistory
Fin whale Balaenoptera physalus 11 2018-04-22 DownloadMapperHistory
Fraser's dolphin Lagenodelphis hosei 1.2 2015-10-05 DownloadMapperHistory
Harbor porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4 2017-06-01 DownloadMapperHistory
Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae 10 2017-06-01 DownloadMapperHistory
Killer whale Orcinus orca 1.2 2015-09-26 DownloadMapperHistory
Melon-headed whale Peponocephala electra 1.2 2015-09-26 DownloadMapperHistory
Mesoplodont beaked whales Mesoplodon spp. 6 2017-08-10 DownloadMapperHistory
Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 9 2017-06-01 DownloadMapperHistory
North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis 11 2021-02-27 DownloadMapperHistory
Northern bottlenose whale Hyperoodon ampullatus 1.2 2015-09-26 DownloadMapperHistory
Pantropical spotted dolphin Stenella attenuata 3 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Pilot whales Globicephala spp. 6 2017-08-08 DownloadMapperHistory
Risso's dolphin Grampus griseus 4 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Rough-toothed dolphin Steno bredanensis 2 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Seals Phocidae spp. 4 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Sei whale Balaenoptera borealis 8 2018-04-22 DownloadMapperHistory
Short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis 4 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus 7 2017-06-01 DownloadMapperHistory
Spinner dolphin Stenella longirostris 1.1 2015-05-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba 4 2018-04-14 DownloadMapperHistory
Unidentified beaked whales Ziphiidae spp. 6 2017-08-10 DownloadMapperHistory
White-beaked dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 2.2 2015-10-06 DownloadMapperHistory

Retired Models

These models have been retired and replaced by more recent models listed above. They are retained here for reference purposes.

Modeled Taxon Scientific Name Version Released Links
Beaked whales Mesoplodon spp. and Ziphius cavirostris 4.4 2016-03-09 DownloadMapperHistory

The "Beaked whales" model is retired and no longer recommended for use. It was succeeded by three newer models: "Cuvier's beaked whale", "Mesoplodont beaked whales", and "Unidentified beaked whales". Following "Beaked whales" version 4.4 and its publication in Roberts et al. (2016), NOAA NEFSC and SEFSC contributed the AMAPPS surveys for use in updated models. In those surveys, NOAA undertook a concerted effort to boost the taxonomic precision of beaked whale sightings relative to prior surveys. Separately, the University of North Carolina, Wilmington team revisited all beaked whale sightings they collected since 2010 to try to fully identify them from photographs taken of each sighted group. These efforts collectively resulted in a large increase in sightings identified to the genus or species level, relative to unidentified sightings, as compared to sightings reported by the surveys used in version 4.4. This allowed us to split the "Beaked whales" guild modeled by version 4.4 into the three successor models that had higher taxonomic resolution.

Conflict of Interest Statement

As acknowledged in our 2016 publication, U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command is one of the principal funders of this modeling project. For the 2016 publication, the Navy was given the opportunity to suggest spatial, temporal, and taxonomical resolutions and a geographic extent that would facilitate the Navy’s use of the results in U.S. environmental regulatory processes. When the analysis was complete, the Navy was given opportunity to view preliminary results. Neither the Navy nor any other funder participated in the analysis of the data or the preparation of the manuscript. Since that publication, the Navy has continued to fund updates to the models under a similar arrangement

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