Report a Stranding

To report a stranded or deceased marine mammal call

Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center:


It is normal for many  species of marine mammals to climb out of the water onto a beach or rocks.  Call only if the mammal appears to be in some kind of distress or is deceased. If the animal appears healthy, the best thing you can do is to only observe from a distance of at least 100 yards (300 feet), and encourage  others in the area to do the same. Federal law requires that you do not approach, disturb or make contact with a marine mammal in any  way.

When you call, a specialist  at the Nortwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will take your name and  number and forward it to one of our investigators.  When we call you  back, here are some of the questions you may be asked:

  • Where is the mammal?
  • What is the closest street to the mammal, and if possible a nearby house number or cross street?
  • Instructions on how to get from the street to the mammal.
  • What type of marine mammal is it. If unsure, what is the color, shape, and general body structure?
  • What is the condition of the mammal?
  • Are there any clear indications as to why the mammal may be in distress? For example: stuck in rocks, bleeding, trapped in a net, etc.


Although you have the best of intentions, it is a violation of Federal Law to approach or make contact with marine mammals.  Making contact is a danger to both you and the mammal. For example, approaching or touching young marine mammals often causes the mother to abandon them.  Distressed marine mammals are often ill with diseases that can be transmitted to humans or other animals (such as dogs).

Once you have called, here are some ways that you can help:

  • Stay near the marine mammal and follow any instructions you were given when you called.
  • When our volunteers arrive, assist them in finding the animal.
  • Remain in the area in case our volunteers need your help, but stay at a distance from the animal unless you are asked to approach and help.
  • While waiting for our volunteers to arrive, do not approach the marine mammal and keep others from approaching. Establish a perimeter of at least 100 yards (300 feet) around the mammal.
  • Both before and after our volunteers arrive, watch for other animals that may attempt to make contact with the animal and if it can be done safely, chase them off.
  • Watch for people walking dogs, especially unleashed dogs.  Go and talk with them long before they get near the mammal and ask them to stay far away.  Since there is always a chance that dogs will bark and aggressively tug on their leash, causing fear and additional stress for the marine mammal, even leashed dogs must be kept far away.  If you yourself discovered the mammal while walking your dog, keep the dog on a leash and maintain a greater distance from the mammal that is in distress or deceased.  Remember that ill or deceased marine mammals often carry diseases that can be transmitted to dogs and humans.
  • If the marine mammal returns to the sea, or if its condition changes, call back and report the change.

Thank you for your assistance.  It is greatly appreciated.