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 primarily a volunteer organization, with one dedicated full-time paid staff member who oversees its operation (the Network Coordinator)
  • Stranding network members are from universities, state and federal agencies, and the general public, and many 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
  • Provide rehabilitation. In accordance with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife policy on marine mammal rehabilitation, non-depleted stock pinnipeds, such as harbor seals, elephant seals, and California sea lions are generally not eligible for rehabilitation. Exceptions might be made for Endangered Species Act listed species (e.g. Guadalupe fur seals) and animals impacted by human interactions.

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
    • NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region
    • Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network Coordinator (Oregon State University)
    • Oregon State Police and the Oregon State Police Volunteers
    • Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
    • Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
    • Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network citizen volunteers
  • North Coast (Columbia River to Tillamook)
    • Portland State University
    • Seaside Aquarium
  • Central Coast (south of Tillamook to Reedsport)
    • Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University
    • The Oregon Coast Aquarium
    • Oregon State Police Volunteers
  • South Coast (Reedsport to CA Border)
    • Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University

    • Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, University of Oregon
    • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

See coverage area map for stranding networks in Oregon, Washington, and California.