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Dead or Distressed Marine Mammals
Reporting a Distressed, Sick, or Injured Marine Mammal

What Can You Do?

Look, but don’t approach or touch the animal; keep any pets away as well. Your actions are important for two reasons; First, because of the law and, second, for health-related reasons. That’s because even a sick wild animal can bite, and marine mammals sometimes carry diseases that can be passed to humans and pets. Distressed, sick or injured marine mammals are sometimes referred to as animals that are “stranded.”

Gather Information then Call

Before calling the authorities, first gather the following types of information:

  • Several photographs of the animal from a safe distance
  • Geographical location of the animal
  • Whether it is still in the water or up on the beach
  • Any signs of injuries or abnormalities?
  • Is the animal alone or with others?
  • How long have you been able to watch it?

Who to Call Depends on the Species

If the distressed animal is a sea otter, walrus, or polar bear, contact the following:

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage; 1-800-362-5148 (24 hrs)
  • Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward; 1-888-774-7325 (24 hrs)
  • Or visit the USFWS Strandings page.

For all whales, seals, and sea lions, contact:

If you observe harassment of marine mammals, call NMFS Nationwide Law Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 (24 hrs).

For Alaska Department of Fish and Game contacts see How ADF&G Assists.

*The Marine Mammal Protection Act defines a stranding as one or more of the following occurrences.

  • Any dead marine mammal on the shore or in the water;
  • A live marine mammal that is on the shore and unable to return to the water;
  • A live marine mammal that is on the shore and in need of medical attention;
  • A live marine mammal that is in the water but is unable to return to its natural habitat under its own power or without assistance (e.g. an animal entangled in fishing gear).