Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program: Program Development Plan
NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPIY-94-2
Hundreds of marine marnmals are stranded each year on ithe bleaches of the United States. Apparently most of these are animals that die at sea and then are carried onshorc:~ by wilnds and currents. In the conliguou~s United Sates most of the stranded cetaceans are bolttlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus; pygmy sperm whales, Kogia breviceps; harbor porpoises, Phocoena phocotpna; and cornmon dolphins, Delphinus delphis. Stranded pimipetis consist mostly of' California sea lions, Zalophus californiarnus; harbor seals, Phoca vitulina; and northern elephaint seals, Mirorrnga angustirostris (Wilkinson, 1991). NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has established a marine nnarnmal st~anding network in each coastal region. The network consists of volunteers who respond to strandings of both dead antd live animals to gather basic biological information and, in the case of live stranclings, to attempt to rehabilitate and return the animals to the sea. At a minimum, the stranding network has beelm required to obtain info~mation on location of stranding, species, length, condition, and sex of the stranded animals. 'This data is contributing to the developmerit of a baseline1 of infc~rmation for detecting unusual mortality events. To coordinate stranding network activilries and ensure consistency among the Regions, a National Marine Mammal Stranding Network C:oordinator has been appointed with~ln the Office of Protected Resources.