Protected Species Program

A major part of BSEE's mission is protecting the environment offshore, including 'protected species.' BSEE does this by working with BOEM to develop mitigation measures as a component of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and incorporating information derived from biological assessments, biological opinions, and other science-based information as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The mitigation measures are developed into requirements attached to leases, plans, and permits as stipulations or conditions of permit approval to prevent harm from coming to our 'protected species.'

ImageProtected species include those protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. On the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) these include sea turtles, cetaceans, polar bears, pinnipeds, and manatees just to name a few. OCS activities that have increased protected species monitoring and mitigations include seismic surveys, drilling operations and explosive removals of offshore structures. Noise from these activities is of particular concern to marine mammals as they use sound to communicate, navigate, and detect predators and prey

BSEE’s Environmental Compliance Program (ECP) oversees verification and enforcement of marine mineral and conventional and renewable energy activities on the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Pacific, and Alaska OCS, which encompasses the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, the Bering Sea, Cook Inlet, and the Gulf of Alaska. Activities vary by region both in the amount of activity and the protected species present.

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Photo by USGS, A. G. Crowder

BSEE ECP ensures that industry complies with all environmental laws, regulations, and relevant provisions, stipulations, and conditions placed on OCS leases, plans, and permits. There are a number of protected species requirements for industry operators when working on the OCS. These requirements are included in approvals or permits but may also be summarized in Notices to Lessees (NTLs). Regional requirements, protected species information, stranding contacts, and other resources are provided below.

Contact Us: protectedspecies@bsee.gov

Frequently Asked Questions

ImageWhat reporting requirements should be followed if a dead or injured whale or dolphin is spotted

Immediately call the Southeast Region Stranding Network 24-Hour Hotline: 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5343)

What reporting requirements should be followed if a dead or injured sea turtle is spotted?

Report it to the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network State Coordinator. For all protected species, if the injury or death was caused by and industry vessel or activity, BSEE must be notified within 24 hours by email (protectedspecies@bsee.gov), in addition to notifying the appropriate stranding networks immediately.

ImageWhat is required if a manatee is spotted outside of Florida?

Contact BSEE via email at protectedspecies@bsee.gov with the details as well as the local wildlife agency or marine law enforcement. A report may also be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via email at manatee@fws.gov

National/General Helpful Links

Gulf Of Mexico Region Links

Pacific Region Links

Alaska Region Links


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Ribbon Seal. Photo: Mike Cameron, NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory

All marine turtle images taken in Florida were obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS),the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the U.S National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles