Stranding Response

To report a marine animal in distress (dolphin, whale, manatee, or sea turtle) please call the UF Marine Animal Rescue Program at 352-477-0344 or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). 

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Animals such as whales, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles that are ill or injured may result in animals that are found on the beach or shoreline. These are usually referred to as being stranded if they are alive and beached if they are dead. These terms are most often used with whales and dolphins though the same may apply to sea turtles and manatees. People or organizations that wish to be involved in assisting with stranded animals are permitted through different government agencies. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issues cetacean stranding agreements while manatee and sea turtle stranding permits are issued through the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The Aquatic Animal Health Program within the University of Florida supports education, research, and conservation of Florida’s aquatic wildlife. We assist NMFS and other stranding response organizations on a regular basis providing clinical, necropsy, and research services. In 2016, we received a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant to establish the UF Marine Animal Rescue Program which responds to sick, injured or deceased marine mammals in Levy, Dixie and Taylor counties. In addition, we can assist the Southeast stranding and response network in other areas for large scale events such as unusual mortality events (UME’s) and disentanglement efforts. Through permits received from the USFWS and FWC, we can also respond to sick or injured manatees and sea turtles.

Team keeping whale cool and out of sun while waiting for veterinarians to arrive
Stranding response conducted under a Stranding Agreement between NMFS and UF under the authority of the MMPA.

What Can You Do?

If you find a sick, injured or diseased animal, please call the UF Marine Animal Rescue Program at 352-477-0344 or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).

When reporting, please share the following information with the dispatcher:

  • Your name and call back number
  • Your location (address, GPS, or waterway marker)
  • Photos or video of the animal(s)
  • The species of the marine animal
  • How many animals are involved
  • If the animals alive, dead, in distress, or injured

Stranded Animal Reminders:

  • Do not push the animal out into water if it is found on shore.
  • Remain calm and keep a safe distance from the animal.
  • Take photos and videos to share with the stranding responders.
  • Stay in the area, if asked to do so.
  • Please be aware that it is illegal to touch, harass, or in any way influence the behavior of a marine animal.
    Stranded pilot whale
    Pilot whale stranding response conducted under direction of NMFS and under the MMPA.

    Wildlife Viewing Reminders

    Please follow these easy guidelines, listed by NOAA, to safely view marine wildlife:

    • Please do NOT feed or touch any wild animals
    • View marine mammals from at least 50 yards away
    • If animals approach you, put your boat in neutral
    • Stow your trash

    Find Out More

    Please feel free to visit the UF Marine Animal Rescue Facebook page to find out about upcoming events, stranding responses and stranding information.

    Dr. Walsh and Tatiana on a manatee rescue.
    USFWS Permit # MA770191

    University of Florida


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