The National Inventory of Marine Mammals

Excel file: National Inventory of Marine Mammals (Jan 2019)

The National Inventory of Marine Mammals (NIMM) is the federal government’s database of all (or nearly all) whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions being kept in permanent captivity in the US. It includes deceased individuals, and the data goes back to the 1960s.

The NIMM is required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and is administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service, an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If you look at NOAA’s FOIA logs, you’ll see that the National Inventory of Marine Mammals is by far their most-requested document. Despite this, they’ve never posted it online. (Surprisingly, no one else seems to have posted it either.) NOAA Fisheries has been saying for years that they plan to put it up, and this year there appears to be progress toward posting it as a searchable database.

Until that happens, though, I’ll be posting the most recent version I can get through FOIA. The Excel file above was released in January 2019 and contains events through the first week of December 2018.

Further resources:

Ceta-Base: privately run website that tracks all whales, dolphins, and porpoises in captivity around the world. Uses multiple sources of information from governments, industry, news media, social media, etc. Covers “births, captures, deaths, escapes, miscarriages, releases, stillbirths and strandings.” Contains historical data going back to at least 1970.

NOAA-NMFS Failures in Marine Mammal Inventory Management for Killer Whales“: a 2011 audit from the Orca Project showing that 123 killer whales — most of whom were deceased — were missing from the NIMM. The Project also compiled its own extensive database of orcas, but it hasn’t been updated since late 2013.

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