Overview: Marine Mammal Strandings in Alaska

professionals handling stranded whaleDr. Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands Animal Health Center in Abbotsford, British Columbia, performs a necropsy of a killer whale in 2013 on a shoreside ledge at Carroll Inlet. Gary Freitag/Alaska Sea Grant

Alaskans and tourists are often active in the marine waters both along the shoreline and off the coast. While enjoying the marine environment you may come across a stranded marine mammal. Animals strand for a variety of reasons. It is important that you know, understand, and obey the laws and recommendations concerning stranded marine mammals, for their safety and your own. The best thing to do when you see a stranded animal is to report it promptly. Even dead animals can provide important information for scientists who study marine mammals and their environment.

How to Report a Marine Mammal Stranding

The Do’s and Don’ts of Marine Mammal Strandings



Please remember SAFETY FIRST! Marine mammals are wild animals and getting too close puts you at risk for being bitten or injured. A marine mammal should not be approached closer than 100 yards. They can carry diseases that are transmittable to humans and pets, even when they are dead. In addition, live stranded marine mammals are likely already stressed, and your presence will increase that level of stress.

If you see a marine mammal being harassed call the National Marine Fisheries Service Nationwide Law Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 (24 hr).

Identifying Marine Mammals

Guide to Marine Mammals of Alaska

Who Manages Which Species?

Sea otters, walrus, and polar bears:

Whales, dolphins, porpoise, seals, and sea lions:

Where Does Your Report Go?

Marine Mammal Rehabilitation at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska