Greater Atlantic 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 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (866) 755-6622.
How to Report a Stranding
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 note that it is normal for seals to rest on beaches or rocky coastal areas.
Please report any injured, entangled or dead whales, seals, dolphins or porpoises. The most important information to collect is the location of stranding (latitude and longitude or address), and to take pictures from a safe distance of 150 feet away. Please don't move or touch the animal. Contact the stranding network immediately so trained responders can assess the animal.
NOAA Fisheries 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (866) 755-6622
NOAA Law Enforcement 24-hour Hotline: (800) 853-1964
About the Stranding Network
The Greater Atlantic Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network was created to provide a consistent framework in which to collect, compile, and share data about marine mammal strandings throughout the region, which extends from the Virginia/North Carolina border north to our border with Canada. The network is composed of state and federal wildlife and fisheries agencies, veterinary clinics, non-profit agencies, and academic institutions who respond to or provide professional advice on responding to strandings.
In most cases, the cause of the stranding is unknown; some identified causes have included 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 some cases, it's possible to transport individuals to marine mammal rehabilitation centers for care, where they are treated with the objective of returning them to the wild.
Stranded animals may provide information on a 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 (animal autopsies) on dead stranded animals, we can learn more about the basic physiology and biology of these animals that we sometimes know little about. Necropsies provide data on the incidence of human interactions including ship strikes, shootings, entanglements, and marine debris ingestions. These data help us make better management decisions about these stocks of marine mammals.
Without authorization from NOAA Fisheries, the public cannot pick up stranded marine mammals. However, if you can report and document the animal to (866) 755-6622, it will help stranding network members in their response. The most important information to collect is the date, location of stranding, and photos taken from a safe distance (150 feet).
Specimens of deceased marine mammals, 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 Gloucester helps to maintain communication among stranding network members, museums, and researchers to obtain samples and specimens.
Greater Atlantic Region Stranding Network Members
All network members can be reached through the marine animal reporting hotline: (866) 755-6622