West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network
To report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal along the West Coast, please call: 1-866-767-6114.
What is a Stranding?
- A marine mammal that is on the shore and unable to return to the water under its own power.
- A marine mammal that is on the shore and, although able to return to the water, is in need of apparent medical attention.
- A marine mammal in the water that cannot return to its natural habitat without assistance.
- A dead marine mammal on the beach or in the water.
How to Report a Stranding
First, determine if the animal is truly stranded. Many seals and sea lions haul out and rest on land and are not in distress. You can evaluate the animal’s behavior and monitor their condition for 24 hours. Let others who are nearby know to stay at least 100 yards away (about the length of a football field), keep pets 100 yards away, help minimize disturbances if possible, and be aware of hazards or rising tides and monitor from an area that is safe.
To report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal along the West Coast (i.e., off California, Oregon, and Washington):
- West Coast Region Stranding Hotline: 1-866-767-6114
- Regional Stranding Response Contacts
To report entangled marine mammals:
- Entanglement Reporting Hotline: 1-877-SOS-WHAL or 1-877-767-9425
- The U.S. Coast Guard: VHF Ch. 16
To report harassments and other violations to law enforcement:
- NOAA Enforcement Hotline: 1-800-853-1964
To report derelict gear:
- Derelict Gear Hotline: 1-855-542-3935
What Information To Report?
- Species or description of the animal
- Location (region/landmarks and/or specific location like GPS coordinates)
- Date and time the animal was last seen
- Approximate size of the animal (length and weight), take a photo with a phone if possible
- Condition of the animal (alive, dead, wounded, entangled, bleeding, etc.)
- Human interactions (evidence of ship strike, entangled, shooting, etc.)
- Tags or branding on the animal (if applicable)
- Name and contact number for the person reporting the incident
Should I Report?
- There is a live cetacean on the beach or entangled cetacean in the water… YES!
- There is a live pinniped on the beach for more than 24 hours… YES!
- There is an obviously sick or injured animal that has been hauled out less than 24 hours… YES!
- There are ANY dead marine mammals… YES!
Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. There are known zoonotic diseases that have been transmitted to people from the marine mammals they have worked with, so please remember the following:
- Please stay at least 100 yards away!
- Keep dogs at least 100 yards away at all times!
- Do not disturb, move, touch, or feed a marine mammal!
All marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and it is illegal for unauthorized persons to harass, handle, or feed them. Learn more at Share the Shore: Watch Marine Mammals Responsibly.
About the Stranding Network
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network was established in the early 1980s under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Members of the network respond to marine mammal stranding events along the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts and are part of a nationwide network.
Every year there are hundreds of reports of stranded marine mammals throughout Washington, Oregon, and California. Each case can hold important information about the species, which can contribute to scientific research or public education. Information collected from stranded animals can be used to:
- Establish baseline information on marine mammal populations and their health.
- Increase biological information for research.
- Develop safety information and increase awareness.
- Provide public education about marine mammals to reduce the chances of negative human and wildlife interactions.
In most stranding cases, the cause of the stranding is unknown, but some identified causes have included disease, parasite infestation, harmful algal blooms, injuries from ship strikes or fishery entanglements, pollution exposure, trauma, and starvation. While most stranded animals are found dead, some strand alive. In a limited number of cases it is possible to transport them to rehabilitation centers for care. In rare cases, successfully rehabilitated animals are returned to the wild.
The West Coast Region coordinates stranding network activities from the NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region offices based in Seattle, WA, and Long Beach, CA.
Our Stranding Network is composed of cooperating scientific investigators and institutions, volunteer networks, and individuals in all three states. Other organizations that are also involved are wildlife and fisheries agencies and state and federal law enforcement. Although response areas are defined geographically, the stranding network members coordinate extensively within the region and on occasion with our Canadian counterparts. Each stranding event is handled on a case-by-case basis and is dependent on local capability, available resources, personnel, and logistics.
The West Coast Region's Stranding Network coverage area is the nearshore waters and shoreline of Washington, Oregon, and California. North of 32º 30'N (the U.S./Mexico border) and South of 49º0'N (the U.S./Canadian border), including the inland waters of Washington State. There are 3,767 km (2,337 nautical miles) of marine shoreline in Washington, 476 km (295 nautical miles) in Oregon, and 1674 km (904 nautical miles) in California.
- Washington Jurisdictions (PDF, 1 page)
- Puget Sound Jurisdictions (PDF, 1 page)
- Oregon Jurisdictions (PDF, 1 page)
- California Live Stranding Jurisdictions (PDF, 1 page)
- California Dead Stranding Jurisdictions (PDF, 1 page)
- Stranding Response Hotlines in CA, OR, and WA
West Coast Stranding Events & Summaries
- West Coast Stranding Network 10-Year Data Summary and Q&As (2007-2016) (PDF, 11 pages)
- Stranding Network Q & A (PDF, 2 pages)
West Coast Stranding Network Partners
The network is composed of cooperating scientific investigators and institutions, volunteer networks, and individuals authorized by NOAA Fisheries to respond to strandings. Other organizations also involved are wildlife and fisheries agencies and state and federal law enforcement. Participants are trained in systematic data collection and are experienced in handling a variety of marine mammal stranding related tasks. Data are collected for inclusion in a national database to establish baseline information on marine mammal communities and monitor their health.
Since the inception of the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program in 2001, millions of dollars have been granted nationwide to support our efforts. There is an annual competitive program as well as funding made available throughout the year for emergency response. In the West Coast Region, we have supported over 34 of our Stranding Agreement Partners in Washington, Oregon, and California.
- Northcoast Marine Mammal Center (NMMC)
- California Polytechnic University - Humboldt State University (CPUH)
- The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC)
- California Academy of Sciences, Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy (CAS)
- Long Marine Laboratory, University of California, Santa Cruz (LML)
- Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, San José State University (MLML)
- Channel Islands Cetacean Research Unit (CICRU)
- Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI)
- California Wildlife Center (CWC)
- Marine Animal Rescue (MAR)
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA)
- Ocean Animal Response and Research Alliance (OARRA)
- Marine Mammal Care Center of Los Angeles (MMCCLA)
- Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC)
- SeaWorld of California (SWC)
- Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC)
- University of California, Davis - Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN)
Washington and Oregon Partners
- Cascadia Research Collective
- Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network
- Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
- Highline Community College, Marine Science & Technology Center
- Juan de Fuca Marine Mammal Stranding Network
- Makah Tribe
- Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
- Olympic National Park
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute
- Portland State University / Seaside Aquarium
- Port Townsend Marine Science Center
- San Juan Islands Marine Mammal Stranding Network
- SR3 SeaLife Response, Rehab, and Research
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations
- West Seattle Seal Sitters
- Whatcom County Marine Mammal Stranding Network
- World Vets
- National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program
- Unusual Mortality Events
- Fisheries Interactions
- Ship Strikes
- Large Whale Entanglement Response Program
- Marine Mammal Bycatch
- Marine Mammal Parts Authorization
- West Coast Marine Mammal Research
- West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network Literature References
- Prescott Grant Program
- Whales on the West Coast
- Other Cetaceans on the West Coast
- Seas and Sea Lions on the West Coast
- Marine Mammals on the West Coast