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Instructor Carol “Krill” Carson, Department of Biology

Saving Stranded Marine Wildlife

In 2005, I founded the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA), an all-volunteer nonprofit based in Southeastern Massachusetts. Its mission is to combine research with educational outreach and conservation management. NECWA also provides internships for both high school and college students, including many BSU students from various majors.

In the early years, we focused our research efforts on whales, dolphins and porpoises that feed in the waters of New England each spring, summer and fall. In 2008, I expanded our focus through the creation of a community-sighting network for basking sharks and ocean sunfish.

At the time, I didn’t realize that ocean sunfish strand each fall and early winter, primarily along the northern shores of Cape Cod. Now I spend much of my fall rescuing these behemoths that can weigh more than 1,000 pounds.

Like other marine wildlife, ocean sunfish migrate south to warmer wintering areas. However, some become trapped inside Cape Cod Bay and eventually strand.

For those fish that strand live, I do my best to get them back into deep water. For those that strand dead, I conduct necropsies and share the data and tissues that are collected with researchers around the world. This information is helping scientists better understand the biology and ecology of this coastal pelagic species, as well as supporting conservation efforts and protections in the United States and abroad.

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