Oceans are critical to our collective livelihoods
...they provide half of the oxygen we breathe, food for millions, and support for thriving coastal economies. That’s why The Nature Conservancy is dedicated to protecting the health of our global oceans today and well into the future. Since 2016, the Conservancy has led the development of Migratory Species Conservation, a framework for their conservation and an online decision support tool to help address the knowledge gap of migratory pathways, threats, and opportunities for their conservation.
“The Migratory Species Conservation project aims to identify migratory blueways in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond in order to preserve migratory marine species and improve the health of large marine ecosystems.”
- The Nature Conservancy
Critical migratory pathways and threats to species migration are essential information for effective marine conservation planning and species survival, yet are poorly understood. Recent improvements in marine animal tracking technology has offered high resolution data, which can be used to understand migratory triggers, pathways, threats, and stopover locations. By identifying these blueways and hotspots, marine conservation planners can aim to protect these locations and improve species survival.
The Nature Conservancy has collected animal tracking data from over 100 researchers and institutions in the United States, Mexico, and Cuba to assess migratory pathways in the Gulf of Mexico. The Conservancy hopes the Blueways Conservation Decision Support Tool will foster informed management decisions and international collaboration in protecting the health of the Gulf of Mexico. The accompanying online mapping tool provides support for planners, government officials, and ocean advocates to understand marine species blueways, threats, and key stopovers.
Learn More About The FRAMEWORK
Conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and water for nature and people. The Conservancy addresses the world’s most pressing conservation threats on a scale that can truly make a difference.

For more than 40 years, the  Conservancy has worked  to protect the Gulf of Mexico and achieve large-scale conservation success, through a combination of land acquisition, restoration projects, and policy advocacy. The Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico work spans all five Gulf States:  Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
Learn more about The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy Team
Jorge Brenner
Project Manager  |  jbrenner@tnc.org
Jorge Brenner is the associate director of marine science for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. He is involved in coastal and marine planning, marine science, marine habitat restoration and monitoring projects. He has a Ph.D. in marine sciences from Polytechnic University of Catalonia, in Barcelona, Spain, where he conducted research on the Mediterranean Sea. He has developed several online tools to aid conservation efforts in the Gulf of Mexico and is the lead investigator on this migratory species project.
Valerie Pietsch McNulty
Marine GIS Manager  |  valerie.mcnulty@tnc.org
Valerie Pietsch is the marine GIS manager for The Nature Conservancy in Texas.  She has a master’s in climate and society from Columbia University, where she studied climate change from both a scientific and social standpoint, specializing in GIS and remote sensing as a method for quantifying climate change impacts. She is responsible for updating the content on this site, as well as additional data collection and assessment as the project develops.
This project was supported by Shell as part of its broader collaboration with the Conservancy focused on identifying innovative ways to protect the environment and bring conservation knowledge to industry and public sector partners.
Migratory pathway development and the publication of our first report has been made possible by the generous financial support of Lyda Hill.
Portions of this document include intellectual property of Esri and its licensors and are used herein under license.
Copyright © 2017 Esri and its licensors. All rights reserved.

The following institutions collaborate with The Nature Conservancy on this project in varying capacities:
•   Abigail Uribe - Independent Collaborator
•   Center for Fisheries Research and Development - Gulf Coast Research Laboratory - The University of Southern Mississippi
•   Centro de Investigaciones Pequeras de Cuba
•   College of Marine Science - University of South Florida
•   Dauphin Island Sea Lab - University of Southern Alabama
•   Fisheries Ecology Laboratory, Shark Biology and Fisheries Science Laboratory - Texas A&M University Galveston
•   Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System
•   Guy Harvey Research Institute - Nova Southeastern University
•   Harte Research Institute - Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
•   Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association
•   Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Pesquerias - Universidad Veracruzana
•   Mote Marine Laboratory - Center for Shark Research & Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program
•   New College of Florida
•   Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan
•   Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science - University of Miami
•   Universidad Autonoma del Carmen
•   York University
Scientific Steering Committee
Our Scientific Steering Committee includes scientists from three different countries, all of whom are committed to helping identify the best data, science, and products this project can contribute to scientific, management, and educational communities, in order to conserve migratory biodiversity in the Gulf.
Dr. Billy Causey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Protected Areas Center
Dr. Felix Moncada, Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Program, National Fisheries Research Center of Cuba
Dr. Frank Muller-Karger
, Institute for Marine Remote Sensing (IMaRS), University of South Florida
Dr. John “Wes” Tunnell Jr., Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University (1945 - 2018)
Dr. Rodolfo Claro
, formerly of the Institute of Oceanology in Cuba
Dr. Ruth Perry, Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy Specialist, Shell 
Dr. William Kiene, formerly of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
We would also like to acknowledge the enormous contributions of the scientists and institutions who continuously support this project, providing datasets and reviews that were essential to the development of our analyses and products.