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Marine Science Center

Stranded Marine Animals

What Can You Do?

Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline: 1-800-532-9551
To report any live or dead whale, seal, dolphin, porpoise, or sea turtle call 1-800-532-9551.

Marine mammals are protected by federal law. It is illegal for unauthorized persons to touch, harass or prompt the animal in any way to change its natural behavior. It is also stressful to the wild animal!

If you come across a stranded marine animal,  the following steps should be taken:

  1. Do not touch, pick up, or feed the animal. Do not return the animal to the water. Seals temporarily "haul out" on land to rest and mothers briefly leave their pups while making short trips back out to sea. A beached whale or dolphin should be reported immediately.

  2. Observe the animal from a distance of at least 50 feet. Keep people and dogs away.

  3. Note the physical characteristics (size and fur/body color). This will help stranding personnel determine the species. It will also affect the types of equipment and volunteers that will be necessary to respond to the animal.

  4. Note the animal's condition. Is it weak and gaunt? Are there any open wounds?

  5. Are any identification tags or markings present (may be located on back, head, or flippers)?

  6. Determine the exact location of the animal for accurate directions.  This may be as simple as the address of the nearest, landmarks on the beach, or GPS Coordinates.

  7. When you call, in Maine 1-800-532-9551, to report the stranding, leave any information about the stranding (size/type/number of animals), as well as a contact name and telephone number, if possible.  Responders may need to contact you for more information about the animal.

Not In Maine?

Please contact the:
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's 24-hour phone line
1-800-853-1964

or refer to the National Marine Fisheries Service Regions Stranding Participants Hotlines webpage.