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What should I do if I see an entangled animal?

If you see an animal that appears entangled or in distress, immediately report it. Real-time reporting helps increase the chance of a successful disentanglement. And it allows wildlife managers and responders to better understand what led to the entanglement, which helps guide future responses.

For large whales that appear to be in distress, please contact the entanglement specialists in your region via the national entanglement response and stranding network. If you are on a boat without access to a cell phone, please contact the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 (156.8 Mhz). And always remember to keep your distance—100 yards or more is recommended.

If you encounter an entangled dolphin, porpoise, seal, sea lion, or sea turtle contact your local responders via the national entanglement response and stranding network. After you report an entangled animal, the responding team will determine whether a response is possible.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Stay in the boat—never get in the water to help a whale, dolphin, seal, sea lion, or sea turtle.
  • Note the GPS coordinates of the location of the entangled animal.
  • Call your local responder via the national entanglement response and stranding network
  • Wait for trained, authorized personnel—do not attempt to free an animal on your own.
  • Monitor the situation—if a response is possible, authorities may ask that you watch the animal from a safe distance (greater than 100 yards and not directly behind the animal).
  • Document the entanglement—if possible take photos and video of the animal from a safe distance.