Reporting marine mammal strandings promptly is the most important thing you can do to help our efforts. Find out where to call, what information to share, and some basic DO's and DON'Ts.


There are two options for reporting a stranded marine mammal in Oregon:

  1. Fill out an online stranding report. Describe the situation, location, and upload photographs if you have them. Fill out the report form here.
  2. Call the NOAA West Coast Stranding Hotline at 1-866-767-6114. This hotline covers the entire West Coast area and they will send your report to the appropriate stranding contact.
Key Points:
  • Live marine mammals can become stressed when people get too close or make too much noise.
  • Marine mammals are protected by federal law. It's illegal for unauthorized persons to disturb, handle, or feed them.
  • Your stranding report helps us stay informed about marine mammal health issues. NOTE: There are no rehabilitation options for most sick or injured seals and sea lions in Oregon. The state policy is to minimize disturbance from people and to let nature take its course.

SAFETY FIRST! These are wild animals and they can bite. Many carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans or pets. Please keep your distance.

Stranding FAQs

A marine mammal is considered “stranded” when it is:

  1. Dead, or
  2. Alive and
    • can’t get back to the water, or
    • is critically injured or ill, or
    • can’t get back to its natural habitat.

Whales, dolphins and porpoises on the beach are always considered to be stranded. In contrast, it's normal for seals and sea lions to rest on shore. Harbor seal pups found on beaches are usually not stranded. Learn more about harbor seal pup season

No. The OMMSN responds to reports pertaining to marine mammals, ie: whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and sea otters.

If you have a wildlife concern about a non marine mammal species, you can try:

  • sea turtles and seabirds - Oregon Coast Aquarium 541-867-3474
  • banded birds - US Fish and Wildlife 541-867-4550
  • raptors, perching birds, or other wildlife - Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis 541-745-5324
  • land mammals or other wildlife - Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 541-867-4741
  • sharks and rays - Big Fish Lab at Hatfield Marine Science Center

No. There are no disposal services for decomposing carcasses found on Oregon beaches.

Most carcasses remain on site to decay naturally and provide food for scavenging birds, etc. We receive reports of hundreds of dead marine mammals each year, and while we value each report as an important data point, we only have the time and resources to collect and necropsy a portion of those animals that are freshly dead.

The Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation is the agency responsible for the maintenance of the ocean shore. If a carcass concerns you, try contracting them and request a ranger to bury it. On the central Oregon Coast, this number is 541-563-8500.

Yes! Pictures are essential! They convey a great deal of information about an animal's species, condition, and geographic location. Learn more about how to take and submit photos

Some more facts about pinnipeds (seals and sea lions):

  • They are amphibious, at home on land as well as in water
  • They don’t need to remain wet
  • They do need to rest on land
  • They tend to move awkwardly on land
  • They are capable of extended periods of fasting
  • They should be left alone

It is important to keep in mind:

  • Human and domestic animal contact with marine mammals is only likely to cause stress, which can have detrimental health effects
  • Animals die through natural selection; it is a normal process
  • Euthanasia is sometimes an option to relieve animal suffering
  • Adverse weather and tidal conditions can be challenging and dangerous; responders should always prioritize human safety first
  • Marine mammals spark strong human emotions, potentially complicating effective stranding response
  • We all need to better educate the general public to share the shore with marine mammals

What You Can Do:

  • Report the animal to the stranding network. Include as much information as you can, including:
    • Your name and contact information
    • The location of the animal. Be as precise as possible, making note of the town name, beach landmarks and beach accessibility. If you have GPS coordinates, that's great!
    • A description of the animal - species (if known), color, size, vocalizations
    • General condition of the animal - alive or dead, lethargic, injured, bleeding, entanglements
    • If you have photos of the animal, text them to 541-270-6830 along with the information above.
  • If you find a live cetacean (dolphin, porpoise, whale), it's especially important to report it to the stranding network IMMEDIATELY. Do not try to put the animal back in the water. Focus on keeping the surrounding area quiet.
  • Keep people and dogs away.
    • Post signs to alert people that an animal is on the beach.
    • Draw a big circle in the sand around the animal to help alert people that an animal is on the beach. Try to keep people 50 yards away.


  • move, touch, or disturb the animal
  • drive animals back into the water
  • pour water on a seal or sea lion
  • try to feed the animal

If the animal raises its head in response to people or dogs on the beach, you are too close! Keep dogs leashed and away from marine mammals.