This map shows a Species Group product. It is one of hundreds of Species Group products developed through a partnership with the Marine-life Data and Analysis Team (MDAT). It was built from the MDAT Individual Species products that characterize the predicted distribution and abundance of cetacean species or species guilds, or bird species; or the surveyed biomass of fish species.

Some of these maps contain information about federally protected species. Additional information about the distribution, abundance, and range of species listed under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is available at:

Data Considerations

Species Group products provide a general overview of the total abundance, biomass, or number of species (richness) for groups of species that are similar because of the way they are managed, their ecology, or their sensitivity to specific stressors. The Northeast Regional Ocean Council’s Marine Life Work Groups, stakeholders, the Ecosystem Based Management Work Group, and similar proceedings in the Mid-Atlantic region helped determine what Species Groups should be mapped and what species should belong to each group.

Species Group products can help answer questions such as:

  • Where do the highest number of endangered whale species overlap? (Species of Concern)
  • Where are demersal fish most abundant? (Ecological Group)
  • Where are birds that are vulnerable to collision with offshore wind energy infrastructure most abundant? (Stressor Group)

Species Group products show annual averages of species patterns, they group as many as 81 species together on a single map, and they do not have specific associated estimates of uncertainty. For these reasons, Species Group products are a good starting point for further detailed analyses and exploration of the Individual Species products on which they are based.

To address specific questions, users should explore Individual Species map products. The entire marine life virtual reference library contains extremely detailed spatial and temporal information, including several measures of uncertainty to supplement each individual species map. These data are well suited to address specific questions in conjunction with site-specific data, scientific literature, public input, and many other information sources.

For more details about mapping approaches, specific methods, caveats, and limitations, see the Marine life Data and Analysis Team Model Repository page.


This work represents the efforts of many individuals and funders. Use of these map products for spatial planning purposes is encouraged, with appropriate citations included in any reports or publications.

For all maps and data on this page please cite:

  1. Marine-life Data Analysis Team (MDAT; Patrick Halpin, Jesse Cleary, Corrie Curtice, Deborah Brill, Michael Fogarty, Brian Kinlan, Charles Perretti, Marta Ribera, Jason Roberts, Emily Shumchenia, Arliss Winship). Marine life summary data products for Northeast ocean planning. Northeast Ocean Data. https://northeastoceandata.org. Accessed MM/DD/YYYY.
  2. Curtice C., J. Cleary, E. Shumchenia, and P.N. Halpin. 2019. Marine-life Data and Analysis Team (MDAT) Technical Report on the Methods and Development of Marine-life Data to Support Regional Ocean Planning and Management. Prepared on behalf of the Marine-life Data and Analysis Team (MDAT). Accessed at: http://seamap.env.duke.edu/models/MDAT/MDAT-Technical-Report.pdf.

For cetacean products, please cite (1), (2), and: 

Roberts J.J., B.D. Best, L. Mannocci, E. Fujioka, P.N. Halpin, D.L. Palka, L.P. Garrison, K.D. Mullin, T.V.N. Cole, C.B. Khan, W.M. McLellan, D.A. Pabst, and G.G. Lockhart. 2016. Habitat-based cetacean density models for the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Scientific Reports 6: 22615. doi: 10.1038/srep22615.

Roberts JJ, Yack TM, Halpin PN (2023) Marine mammal density models for the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) study area for the Phase IV Navy Marine Species Density Database (NMSDD). Document version 1.3. Report prepared for Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Atlantic by the Duke University Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Durham, North Carolina.

For avian products, please cite (1), (2), and:
A.J. Winship, B.P. Kinlan, T.P. White, J.B. Leirness, and J. Christensen. 2018. Modeling At-Sea Density of Marine Birds to Support Atlantic Marine Renewable Energy Planning: Final Report. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Office of Renewable Energy Programs, Sterling, VA. OCS Study BOEM 2018-010. x+66 pp.

For fish products, please cite (1), (2), and:
Ribera, M., Pinsky, M., Richardson, D. 2021. Distribution and biomass data for fish species along the U.S. east coast from about Cape Hatteras north to Canadian waters, created by The Nature Conservancy for the Marine-life and Data Analysis Team. Online access: http://www.northeastoceandata.org/data-explorer/?fish


Cetacean products
Source: Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab (MGEL) at Duke University. This product was developed by MGEL in collaboration with colleagues at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW), the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center (VAMSC), the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources, Tetra Tech and HDR. It was derived from habitat-based density models for cetaceans built from shipboard and aerial line transect surveys conducted at sea over more than two decades by the NMFS Northeast and Southeast Fisheries Science Centers, UNCW, VAMSC, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, HDR Incorporated, Marine Conservation Research, FWRI, New England Aquarium, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and TetraTech, Incorporated, and Wildlife Trust / EcoHealth Alliance / Sea to Shore Alliance. The UNCW surveys were funded by U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command and NOAA. VAMSC surveys in Virginia were funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality through Task 1 of Grant NA12NOS4190027 and Task 95.02 of Grant NA13NOS4190135 from NOAA, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended. The southeast U.S. right whale surveys were funded by NOAA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina State Port Authority, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Funding for this project was provided by United States Fleet Forces Command and was managed on their behalf by Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Atlantic. Development of the model for North Atlantic right whale was co-funded by NOAA under a cooperative research agreement. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Councils provided funding for summary product creation and data hosting services. For more information, please contact Jason Roberts (jason.roberts@duke.edu).

Avian products
Source: NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. This study was funded in part by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management through Interagency Agreement M13PG00005 with the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS). This product represents results of predictive modeling applied to data from the Northwest Atlantic Seabird Catalog (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Eastern Canada Seabirds at Sea database (Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada). For more information, please contact Arliss Winship (NCCOS Biogeography Branch, Silver Spring, MD, arliss.winship@noaa.gov).

Fish products
Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) Ecosystems Dynamics and Assessment Branch and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Data sourced from fall and spring 2010-2019 bottom trawl surveys performed by NEFSC Ecosystem Surveys Branch, Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (2007-2014), Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (1978-2014), and the Maine Department of Marine Resources and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (2000-2014). These products represent the results of aggregating and interpolating trawl point data along the US east coast from North Carolina to Maine. For more information about NEAMAP, MDMF, and MENH map products, please contact Michael Fogarty (NOAA NEFSC, michael.fogarty@noaa.gov). For information about the mapping procedure for the NEFSC base-layer products, please contact David Richardson (NOAA NEFSC, david.richardson@noaa.gov).


MDAT fish summary products were revised according to agency and public feedback and were posted on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal in September 2021. MDAT cetacean summary products were revised according to agency and public feedback and were posted on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal in May 2023. MDAT avian summary products were revised according to agency and public feedback and were posted on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal in August 2018.