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).
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).
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?
Please do not push the animal out if it is on shore. Remain calm and keep a safe distance from the animal. Take photos and videos to share with the stranding responders. Please stay in the area, if asked to do so. Be aware that it is illegal to touch, harass, or in any way influence the behavior of a marine animal.
Find out More
Please feel free to visit the UF Marine Animal Rescue Facebook page to find out upcoming events, stranding responses and stranding information.