National marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers closed to the public; waters remain open

NOAA's national marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers are closed to the public while the waters remain open for responsible use in accordance with CDC guidance and local regulations. More information on the response from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries can be found on

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SPLASH Research Techniques

SPLASH utilized consistent sampling efforts in feeding and wintering areas of humpbacks within the North Pacific. Various field techniques including photo-identification and biopsy tissue sampling were employed.

Photo Identification
The patterns of humpback whales' flukes (tail) are unique to each individual as fingerprints are to humans. The process of photographing the underside of humpback whale flukes, known as photo-identification, leads to valuable information about such things as humpback whale population sizes, migration, sexual maturity, and behavior patterns.
Photo Identification Info Sheet

Biopsy Sampling
Researchers have successfully collected small biopsy samples from thousands of humpback whales worldwide. Collected tissues provide invaluable information on the health and genetic diversity of humpback whales. SPLASH provided a large and comprehensive collection of tissue samples collected under a standard protocol.
Biopsy Sampling Info Sheet

Human Impacts
Threats to humpback whales include entanglement in man-made ropes and nets, vessel strikes, degraded water quality, and underwater noise. The SPLASH study provided useful data to evaluate a number of these human impacts in a more comprehensive manner than has been possible before, including the first systematic review of a population of large whales across their entire Ocean-basin habitat.
Human Impacts Info Sheet

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