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Report an Entangled Marine Mammal

The public should report all sightings of entangled marine mammals so trained and authorized responders can safely respond.

An underwater image of a humpback whale swimming away with yellow line wrapped around its tail An entangled humpback whale off of San Diego, California. Credit: Keith Yip, taken under NOAA Permit #18786

The best way you can help entangled marine mammals is to immediately report sightings. Only experienced responders who have been authorized by NOAA Fisheries and have the appropriate training, experience, equipment, and support should attempt to disentangle or closely approach an entangled marine mammal.

For large whales: If you encounter a large whale that may be entangled, it is critical to report it as soon as possible, with as much information as you have, to the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Ch-16 or your local network via the 24-hour regional hotline:


Phone Number

Maine through Virginia (866) 755-6622
North Carolina through Texas, and the Caribbean (877) WHALE-HELP (877) 942-5343
California, Oregon, and Washington (877) SOS-WHALE (877) 767-9425
Alaska (877) 925-7773
Hawai‘i (888) 256-9840


For dolphins, porpoises, seals, or sea lions: Immediately contact your 24-hour regional stranding hotline or local stranding network and await further guidance.

When reporting an entangled marine mammal, provide the following information:

  • Date
  • Location of the animal (including latitude and longitude, if known)
  • A detailed description of the entangling gear or debris
  • Where the entanglement is located on the animal
  • The behavior of the animal
  • Condition of the animal (alive or dead)
  • Species (if known)

Photos or videos from different angles and from a safe and legal distance (note that regulations apply to certain species and areas) can provide valuable information to entanglement response teams. If you can stand by the animal at a safe distance until responders arrive, it will be the best help for the animal and response team.

You can also download the Dolphin and Whale 911 Stranding App in the Apple App Store to help report a stranding or entanglement.