Operation GRACE

Global Rescue of At-Risk Cetaceans & Ecosystems

A Collaborative, Community-Based Approach to the Conservation of Small Cetaceans

The NMMF is committed to working collaboratively with local partners on bold solutions, not bound by traditional practices, to conserve species and improve ecosystems globally.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has sounded the alarm for a broader, more integrated approach to the conservation of at-risk small cetaceans. The extinction of the Yangtze River dolphin in China, and the catastrophic decline of the vaquita porpoise in Mexico, were noted as examples of why waiting too long to consider all conservation options should be avoided.

To answer this call, the NMMF has launched Operation GRACE (Global Rescue of At-Risk Cetaceans and Ecosystems). By leveraging our team’s veterinary and conservation medicine expertise, we aim to apply our unique veterinary perspective to holistic conservation programs targeted at protecting threatened and endangered marine mammals, their ecosystems, and the human communities that depend on them.

Through science, public engagement, and compelling storytelling, Operation GRACE aspires to creatively assist coastal partners with meaningful solutions for global application and lasting impact.

Operation GRACE In Action

The NMMF is actively working to support at-risk cetaceans by:

  • Filling critical data gaps for the veterinary care of threatened and endangered cetaceans.
  • Applying our veterinary expertise to the rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation of at-risk cetaceans.
  • Conducting wild marine mammal health assessments to identify the threats facing at-risk cetaceans.
  • Creating innovative remote sampling techniques for porpoises, dolphins, and whales.
  • Building medical databases to help answer critical species-specific questions.
  • Working to align collaborators to integrate local communities, experts, and organizations for holistic conservation approaches.

Current Priority Initiatives

Conservation Leadership

Dr. Forrest Gomez and Dr. Cynthia Smith of Operation GRACE serve as the Conservation Medicine Specialists for IUCN’s Integrated Conservation Planning for Cetaceans (ICPC) Team. ICPC was formed in response to the desperate situation for a number of critically endangered dolphin and porpoise species. To read more about ICPC’s initiatives, you can download their complete report from the 2019 Ex Situ Options for Cetacean Conservation Workshop here.

Program Funding

Funding support from the Scott & Jessica McClintock Foundation, YAQU PACHA e.V. – Organization for the Conservation of Latin American Aquatic Mammals, Society for Marine Mammalogy, Lever for Change, and NMMF Grants Program has helped build the foundation and establish critical collaborations for Operation GRACE. With a recent philanthropic contribution from Dolphin Quest, Operation GRACE is now fully launched.

To become a philanthropic supporter, contact us here.