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National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Regional Office

Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network

How to Report Marine Mammal Strandings

Dead beluga whale on a beach.
Dead beluga whale on a beach. Photo: NOAA Fisheries

Let us know if you see injured, entangled or dead whales, seals or sea lions in the water or on the beach. The most important information to collect is the date, location of stranding (including latitude and longitude), number of animals, and species. Please don't move or touch the animal.

Stranding Report Phone Numbers
(for the general public)
  • NMFS statewide 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (877) 925-7773 or (877) 9-AKR-PRD
  • Protected Resources Office:
    • Juneau: (907) 586-7235
    • Anchorage: (907) 271-5006
  • iPhone strandings app screen shot
    Strandings iPhone Application
  • Alaska SeaLife Center Stranding Hotline: (888) 774-7325

Stranding Reports through the Internet and/or iPhones
(for the general public)
More Information

Alaska Stranding Summaries


Newsletters


Regulations

  • 73 FR 46869, August 12, 2008. Notice of NMFS Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program evaluations of the six NMFS regional stranding networks: Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska, and Pacific Islands Regions. Written comments and recommendations to be accepted through September 12, 2008.
  • 73 FR 16617, March 28, 2008. Extension of comment period for the ANPR on revisions to implement regulations governing the taking of stranded marine mammals. Comment period extended through April 30, 2008.
  • 73 FR 5786, January 31, 2008. NMFS proposes to change the implementation regulations governing the taking of stranded marine mammals under section 109(h), section 112(c), and Title IV of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Comment period through March 31, 2008.

Stranding Publications


Stranding Network Members

ALASKA: (external website links)

NATIONAL:

Research


About the Stranding Network

The Alaska Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network was created to provide a consistent framework in which to collect and compile data about marine mammal strandings throughout the entire state. The network is composed of state and federal wildlife and fisheries agencies, veterinary clinics, Alaska Native organizations, academic institutions, and individuals who respond to or provide professional advice on handling strandings.

Strandings occur when marine mammals swim or float into shore and become "beached" or stuck in shallow water. In most stranding cases, the cause of the stranding is unknown; some identified causes have included pup abandonment, 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's possible to transport individuals to regional rehabilitation centers for care, where they are treated with the objective of returning them to the wild. In the Alaska Region, the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward handles all marine mammal rehabilitation.

Stranded animals may provide information on geographical distribution, feeding habits, reproduction, age distribution, diseases, parasites, and contaminant levels. If strandings are reported quickly, the network also may facilitate the rapid identification of mass mortalities or strandings caused by disease or toxicity/pollution problems. By conducting necropsies on dead stranded animals, it is also possible to learn more about the basic physiology and biology of animals not accessible in the wild or by any other means. Necropsies also have provided data on the incidence of human interactions including ship strikes, shootings, entanglements, and marine debris ingestions. These data help NMFS to make better management decisions about these stocks of marine mammals.

Without authorization from NMFS, the public cannot pick up stranded marine mammals. However, assistance in documenting the incident is helpful and will allow stranding network members to respond. The most important information to collect is the date, location of stranding (including latitude and longitude), number of animals, and species, if known. This information can be given to NMFS online via the Marine Mammal Stranding Event Report Form. Or, by phone:

  • NMFS statewide 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (877) 925-7773 or (877) 9-AKR-PRD
  • Protected Resources Office:
    • Juneau: (907) 586-7235
    • Anchorage: (907) 271-5006
  • Alaska SeaLife Center Stranding Hotline: (888) 774-7325

NOTE: If the stranded animal is a walrus, sea otter, or polar bear, call the the Marine Mammals Management Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage (1-800-362-5148, business hours) or the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward (1-888-774-7325, 24-hrs).

Specimens of the small or rare cetaceans, especially those that are in good condition, may be of interest to museums. Researchers sometimes need specific tissues from other species for various projects. The stranding network office in Juneau will help to establish communication among stranding network members and between museums and researchers and persons or agencies that report strandings.



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