Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network
A stranded animal is one that is dead on the beach or in the water, one that is alive on land and unable to return to the water and/or in need of medical attention, or a live animal in the water that is unable to return to its natural habitat under its own power or without assistance. Please let us know if you see injured, entangled or dead marine mammals. Call the NOAA Fisheries statewide 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (877) 925-7773.
How to Report a Stranding
Please let us know if you see injured, entangled or dead whales, seals or sea lions in the water or on the beach. The most important information to collect is the date, location of stranding (including latitude and longitude), number of animals, and species. Take pictures from different angles if you are able. Please don't move or touch the animal. Contact Information
- NOAA Fisheries statewide 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (877) 925-7773 or (877) 9-AKR-PRD
- Protected Resources Office (M-F 8:00-4:00):
- Juneau: (907) 586-7235
- Anchorage: (907) 271-5006
- Alaska SeaLife Center Stranding Hotline: (888) 774-7325
- Report a Death or Injury of a Marine Mammal During Commercial Fishing Operations
NOTE: If the stranded animal is a walrus, sea otter, or polar bear, call the the Marine Mammals Management Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage (1-800-362-5148 FREE, business hours) or the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward (1-888-774-7325, 24-hrs).
About the Stranding Network
The Alaska Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network was created to provide a consistent framework in which to collect and compile data about marine mammal strandings throughout the entire state. The network is composed of state and federal wildlife and fisheries agencies, veterinary clinics, Alaska Native organizations, and academic institutions who respond to or provide professional advice on handling strandings.
A stranded animal is one that is dead on the beach or in the water, one that is alive on land and unable to return to the water and/or in need of medical attention, or a live animal in the water that is unable to return to its natural habitat under its own power or without assistance. In most cases, the cause of the stranding is unknown; some identified causes have included pup abandonment, injuries from ship strikes or fishery entanglements, pollution exposure, trauma, disease and starvation. While most stranded animals are found dead, some strand alive. In a limited number of cases it's possible to transport individuals to regional rehabilitation centers for care, where they are treated with the objective of returning them to the wild. In the Alaska Region, the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward handles all marine mammal rehabilitation.
Stranded animals may provide information on species geographical distribution, feeding habits, reproduction, age distribution, diseases, parasites, and contaminant levels. If strandings are reported quickly, the network also may facilitate the rapid identification of mass mortalities or strandings caused by disease or toxicity/pollution problems. By conducting necropsies on dead stranded animals, it is also possible to learn more about the basic physiology and biology of animals not accessible in the wild or by any other means. Necropsies also have provided data on the incidence of human interactions including ship strikes, shootings, entanglements, and marine debris ingestions. These data help NOAA Fisheries to make better management decisions about these stocks of marine mammals.
Without authorization from NOAA Fisheries, the public cannot pick up stranded marine mammals. However, assistance in documenting the incident is helpful and will allow stranding network members to respond. The most important information to collect is the date, location of stranding (including latitude and longitude), number of animals, and species, if known. Photos are also very valuable.
Specimens of the small or rare cetaceans, especially those that are in good condition, may be of interest to museums. Researchers sometimes need specific tissues from other species for various projects. The stranding network office in Juneau will help to establish communication among stranding network members and between museums and researchers and persons or agencies that report strandings.
- Map of Alaska Stranding Network Member and Regional Subarea Locations
- Large Whale Entanglement
- Pinniped Entanglement
- Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, February 2009
- Arctic Marine Mammal Disaster Response Guidelines Technical Memo and Appendices, November 2017
- NMFS 2015 Pinniped and Cetacean Oil Spill Response Guidelines
- Photographing Stranded Beluga Whales for Identification - CIBW Photo-ID Project Protocol, LGL Alaska Research Associates, Inc., January 2015
- Summary of Reported Whale-Vessel Collisions in Alaskan Waters, Neilson et al., Journal of Marine Biology, 2012
- Unusual Marine Mammal Mortality Events Working Group
- Alaska Fisheries Science Center Publications Database (Search for "strandings" and select NMML)
- University of Alaska Museum Specimen Database (external website)
- Health and Safety Information for Animal Care Workers
- Marine Mammal Laboratory
- Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program
Alaska Stranding Summaries and Newsletters
- Newsletters: Fall-Winter 2018, Spring-Summer 2018, Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Summer-Fall 2016, Spring 2016, Summer-Fall 2015, Winter-Spring 2015, Summer-Fall 2014, Fall 2013, Winter-Spring 2013, Summer 2012, Winter 2011/2012, Summer 2011
- Copper River Delta Marine Mammal Carcass Surveys- Final Reports: 2017, 2016
- 2018 Sitka Steller Sea Lion Response: Hazing, Rescue, Relocation
Alaska Stranding Network Members
- Alaska Consortium of Zooarchaeologists
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game
- Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program
- Alaska Sealife Center
- Alaska Veterinary Pathology Services
- The Alaska Whale Foundation
- Aleut Community of St. Paul and Fur Seal Disentanglement Project
- Rachel Berngartt, DVM
- Chichagof Conservation Council
- Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
- NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region
- North Slope Borough
- The Petersburg Marine Mammal Center
- Sitka Sound Science Center
- Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak
- University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau
- University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka
- University of Alaska Fairbanks, Museum of the North
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Region
- U.S. Forest Service, Alaska