Cape Lookout Studies Program

The Cape Lookout Studies Program, directed by Natural Science Curator Keith Rittmaster, focuses on marine biological research, conservation, and education. The primary components include:Keith_with_Microphone_WEB

Bonehenge: The skeletal rearticulation of a sperm whale that stranded at Cape Lookout in 2004.

Bottlenose Dolphin Photo-ID: We use dorsal fin photography to identify individual dolphins by their scars and notches. Using this method we have been able to monitor the presence and associations of dolphins as far back as 1985. Through regional collaborations we have also been able to track movements of known dolphins as far south as central Florida and as far north as Long Island Sound.

North Carolina Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program: Protected marine wildlife (whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and birds) becoming entangled in discarded fishing line is a problem in North Carolina that appears to be getting worse. To address this problem, we are installing signs and receptacles at fishing and boating access locations encouraging people to dispose of their used line responsibly.

Protected Species Stranding Response: As part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network, and the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, we respond to reports of stranded or entangled protected marine wildlife.


More Information: The following sites providing more information, photos, links, interactives, and updates:

Cape Lookout Studies


Spy Hop Log

Harbor_Seal_at_Cape_Web All of these projects are dependent on dozens of volunteers, donations, and collaboration with many organizations that deserve a huge thanks including:

North Carolina Maritime Museum Friends of the NC Maritime Museum NOAA Fisheries, Beaufort Lab Duke Marine Lab Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center The Lookout Foundation Sea World, Orlando UNC, Wilmington Lang Family Foundation Christopher Newport University Nags Head Dolphin Watch Mote Marine Lab NC State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology NC Division of Marine Fisheries New England Aquarium Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies Carolina Cay Maritime Foundation Volunteers and donors support.



Stranding Report Update for February 16, 2015

Dwarf sperm whale strands at Ft. Macon
            On the morning of Friday, February 20, 2015 beach walkers at Ft. Macon State Park encountered a dead whale.  Staff, volunteers, and students from the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, NC Maritime Museum, NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, and Ft. Macon State Park collaborated on transporting the female dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) to the NCSU Center for Marine Sciences and Technology for a necropsy.  Dwarf sperm whales are rarely identified at sea and most of what is known about this elusive, squid-eating species has come from stranded specimens. This female weighed 535 lbs. and was pregnant with a 9" fetus.  Sample analysis may contribute information regarding a cause of death.  To report a stranded marine mammal along the central NC coast, please call the NC Marine Mammal Stranding Network hotline,  252-241-5119.


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Dwarf Sperm Whale Fetus   Dwarf Sperm Whale Loaded on Truck   Dward Sperm Whale on Beach  Dwarf Sperm Whale