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OMMSN Background

The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network began in the 1980s, under the umbrella of the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network, as an informal alliance of marine mammal experts from Oregon universities interested in collecting information and specimens from stranded marine mammals. With the advent of the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program in 2002, funding for a dedicated full-time Stranding Coordinator became available, enabling work to progress from casual observations of marine mammal stranding events to a serious scientific endeavor involving the systematic collection, analysis, and archiving of stranding data and biological samples. Data collected from such events are entered into a national database that is used to establish baseline information on marine mammal communities and their health.

  • The Stranding Network is a volunteer organization, with one paid staff member for the entire state of Oregon (the Network Coordinator)
  • Stranding network members are from universities state and federal agencies and the general public, and they donate their time.
  • The network does not receive state funds.
  • All marine mammals are federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) authorizes us to intervene on behalf of stranded marine mammals by special permission.
  • Only people authorized by NMFS may legally handle both live and dead marine mammals (these include state and local officials). Violations are punishable by a $10,000 fine.

We generally Do NOT:

  • Dispose of dead marine mammals - this is the responsibility of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
  • Respond to bird, fish, or non-marine mammal calls
  • Rehabilitate harbor seal pups or California sea lions - wild populations are healthy and growing in Oregon

More information about stranding networks nationwide can be found at NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.

Affiliated Organizations by Region

  • Entire Coast
    • National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS)
    • Oregon State Police and the Oregon State Police Volunteers
    • Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
    • Oregon Stranding Network Coordinator (Oregon State University)
    • Oregon State Parks
    • Oregon Stranding Network Volunteers
  • North Coast (Columbia River to Tillamook)
    • Portland State University
    • Seaside Aquarium
  • Central Coast (south of Tillamook to Reedsport)
    • Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University
    • The Oregon Coast Aquarium
    • Oregon State Police Volunteers
  • South Coast (Reedsport to CA Border)
    • Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, University of Oregon
    • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Map of OMMSN affiliates