How do you help stranded marine animals?


It is the mission of the National Marine Life Center to rehabilitate stranded marine mammals and return them to the wild, and we would not be able to that without the help of the public! Stranded seal pups like Belmont and Barclay would not be in our facilities if they had not been reported to the appropriate rescue organization, then sent to NMLC for rehabilitation, so thank you! However, it is always important to remember that marine mammals, even ones as cute as Belmont and Barclay, are wild animals and should be treated as such.

If you suspect that a seal may be in trouble and is hurt or stranded on a beach, be sure to leash any pets that you may have and stay at least 150 feet from the animal. Marine mammals can also carry zoonotic diseases, or diseases that can be passed on to humans, so it is always important to keep your distance. Sometimes mother seals leave pups on the beach while they hunt, and can be scared away from returning if there are people or animals present around the pup. Whether it is a seal, turtle, or dolphin, it is also important to remember to never return the animal to the water. It may seem to make sense that if an animal is beached, returning it to the water will help it; however, animals strand for a reason. If a turtle is stranded on a beach, that most likely means that it is injured or cold stunned; thus, putting it back in the water may only make matters worse. Please report and stay away from any marine mammal that you come across while on the beach. Thank you for helping us help marine animals get back to the wild!

Ichabod, the seal Kirstie worked with the most!
Thank you!

Report any stranded or potentially stranded marine animals to the nearest authorized member of the marine animal stranding network. If you are unsure who that is, contact the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), or 866-755-6622.

To report someone that is harassing a marine mammal, contact NOAA’s law enforcement office at 800-853-1964.

Stay at least 150 feet away from the marine mammal and take a picture to email to the rescue organization or to NOAA ( so they can determine what actions are necessary.

Click here for phone numbers of local groups, and other helpful information!

Thank you for caring about stranded marine animals.