for the summer of 2004 assisted with determining whether
an unusually high number of strandings of harbor porpoise
during the winter of 1999 was due to an unusual juxtaposition
of oceanographic features in the western the mid-Atlantic.
The goal were to investigate whether a narrow band of
cold water near shore followed by a strong warm water
front results in higher numbers of stranded harbor porpoise
than when the front is further offshore. This question
has been a concern because an alternative explanation
for unusually high numbers of strandings is entanglement
of porpoises in gillnets along the mid-Atlantic coast.
The interns worked on compiling extracted sea surface
temperature (SST) and sea level data, created graphs
and GIS plots, and assisted with analysis of the data.
Only one other episode of alarming numbers of strandings
of harbor porpoise in North Carolina has occurred in
recent times and that was in 1977. Interns used SST
and sea level data for years when it was available to
ensure that the convergence of oceanographic events
seen in 1999 did not occur in other years when high
numbers of strandings also did not occur. Although comparable
data does not exist for the 1970’s, oceanographic
sampling cruises did collect data that may be useful.
Access to these results required a literature search.