The Cetacean and Turtle Assessment Program CCETAP) began at the University of Rhode Island after receipt of a Request For Proposal (RFP) from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in June of 1978. CETAP's proposal was submitted in competition with other offerors. After a series of negotiations, the BLM awarded a contract to CETAP entitled "A Characterization of Marine Mammals and Turtles in the Mid- and North-Atlantic Areas of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf." Staff hiring and other startup procedures began immediately. A comprehensive program for training marine mammal and turtle observers was put together within one month. Several training flights were conducted before the end of 1978, and by January 1979, a full-scale field data collection effort was underway.