The Marine Mammal Library – A Deep Dive into Research

The K pod swims near the Alki Point Lighthouse in West Seattle – photo credit Mark Sears, permit 21348

The MML Library offers a deep dive into marine mammal research. If you want to take the plunge into research about marine mammals, there may be no better place to go than the Marine Mammal Laboratory Library, a resource that is part of the network of libraries operating under the aegis of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

The Library is literally crammed with materials on cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, walrus), and sirenians (manatees and dugongs), as well as sea otters, polar bears, seabirds (including penguins) and sea turtles. There are dissertations on marine mammal research, journals, NOAA publication series, and books – including a large collection donated by Dr. Victor Scheffer, a University of Washington professor who had the distinction of chairing the initial U.S. Marine Mammal Commission from 1973-1976.

The MML Library also provides access to archives of northern fur seal research, International Whaling Commission documents and International North Pacific Fisheries Commission documents. It offers a growing trove of materials on conservation, ecosystem dynamics, fisheries management, statistical methods, and zoology, as well as on international and domestic legislation and treaties that impact marine mammals. 


A large card catalog has pride of place in the center of the Library. It holds records from the early days up through 1994. And displayed atop this handsome relic is a relic of another kind: a gray whale lower jawbone that was discovered amidst jetsam washed up on an Alaskan island. Another one of the library’s treasures is a copy of the lavishly illustrated 19th century work written by van Beneden and Gervais, Ostéographie des Cétacés, vivants et fossiles (“The Osteology of Cetaceans, Living and Fossil”).


The Marine Mammal Laboratory Library is staffed weekdays from 7:30 AM – 4 PM, and is open to the general public by appointment - contact the Library at or 206-526-4013. This is not a lending library, but there are reading nooks and ample desks to accommodate visitors who wish to peruse some of the Library’s 15,000+ collection materials and resources onsite. 


The MML Library is housed on NOAA’s Seattle campus, located at 7600 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle. As a federal facility, the campus has had heightened security in place since the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. That means you will need an enhanced driver’s license or passport to be permitted onto the campus, then a guard at the security booth will direct you to the building that houses the Library.



Marine Mammal Laboratory Library

Library Hours are 7:30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday

You must call ahead or send email to make an appointment!




Barbara McMichael

Barbara Lloyd McMichael is based in the Pacific Northwest and writes about books and culture. She writes a syndicated weekly book review column called  “The Bookmonger” that focuses on Northwest books and authors. Her PR for People® Book Review is written exclusively for The Connector. 

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