Stranding Response

To report a marine animal in distress (dolphin, whale, manatee, or sea turtle) please call UF Marine Animal Rescue 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 FWS and FWC, we can also respond to sick or injured manatees and sea turtles.

What to Do

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

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.

Please share the following information with the dispatcher:

  • Your name and call back number
  • Your location (address, GPS, or waterway marker)
  • The marine animal involved
  • How many animals are involved?
  • Are the animals alive, dead, in distress, or injured?

Stranded Animal Reminders

  • Please do not push the animal out if it is on shore.
  • Please remain calm and keep a safe distance from the animal.
  • Please take photos and videos to share with the stranding responders.
  • Please 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.
pilot whale stranded
Stranding response conducted under permitting by NMFS.

Viewing Wildlife Reminders

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

  1. Please do NOT feed or touch any wild animals
  2. View any marine mammal from at least 50 yards away
  3. If animals approach you, put your boat in neutral
  4. Stow your trash

Explore these resources for more information on viewing wildlife.

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

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