Of the potential environmental effects resulting from offshore oil and gas activities, impacts on marine mammals are a concern from an ecological viewpoint and because of unique legal status. Many species of whales, dolphins, and seals have been exploited by man for centuries, some to the brink of extinction (a few to extinction). In U.S. waters, all marine mammals are legally protected from exploitation under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and many of the large whales are also protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Marine mammals and habitats are also part of environmental analyses conducted under the National...

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