Beached Marine Mammals
Strandings occur when marine mammals or sea turtles swim or float into shore and become "beached," or stuck in shallow water. There are typically two types of stranding events:
1. Single Strandings - When a single animal beaches itself, it is often old, sick or confused, and the stranding is a result of its weakened condition. Single animals can also die from ship strike injuries or entanglements in fishing gear.
2. Mass Strandings - Most of the species that strand in groups are "social" species, such as dolphins and pilot whales, that live in extended family groups for their entire lives. Some identified causes of mass strandings include: disease and parasite infestations, harmful algal blooms, pollution exposure, naval sonar and seismic testing, trauma, and starvation. Strong social bonds within a group may also explain mass strandings, as healthy members may be reluctant to leave behind a sick member. In addition, strandings often occur after unusual weather events.
If you find an animal stranded on a beach near you, do not try to put it back in the water. Call local police immediately if you do not know the number of the nearest marine mammal stranding network.
Please note: The stranding networks handle each stranding event on a case-by-case basis, because response capability varies between areas depending on available resources and personnel.