Whale Strandings: 10 Ways You Can Help

By January 8, 2013 Ocean Solutions

It’s becoming usual to find stranded  animals at the beach, like seals or sea turtles. But probably if you find one, it’ll be a whale or a dolphin, but would you now how to act?

They can be simply desoriented but they can also have some sort of injury or disease,, or have gone to shore to die. Its very difficult to say, so the first thing you have to do is to call local authorities, no matter what animal you’ve found. They will send professional help, and they will tell you exactly what to do. And remember, time is gold here!

Stranded Humpback Whale

Here we’re going to give some advice on how to act if you find a live marine mammal (whale, dolphin, or seal) from Speak Up For Blue Ocean Leaders at British Divers Marine Life Club. This is useful information, but we hope that you won’t have to use it in the future as we hope marine mammals do not become stranded!

1. Give the animal essential first aid;

2. Keep the animal in an upright position, and dig trenches under the pectoral fins. The trenches will ensure the marine mammal does not hurt itself;

3. Cover the animal with wet sheets or towels (even seaweed) and keep it moist by spraying or dousing with water;

4. Do NOT cover, or let any water pass down the blowhole (nostril), which is found on top of the animal’s head. This will cause the animal great distress and could even kill it;

5. Be quiet when you’re around the animal, and try to advise other people that the animal is still alive and will already be stressed;

6. Take note of any characteristic, like the lenght or the pattern of the animal, and try to figure out the species. This could be very valuable information for the professionals when they arrive;

7. Look for wounds or other injuries, and count the number of breaths (opening of the blowhole) that occur over a minute. If the animal is breathing too quickly, it means its stressed, so be gentle;

8. Keep away from the tail, they can hit you with it! Also, try to avoid the animal’s breath, as it may carry some infectious agents;

9. Don’t release the animal into the sea before the professional help has arrived. Don’t worry about supporting a smaller dolphin or porpoise in the water, but keep the blowhole above the water at all times, and as long as it is carried to the water carefully (do NOT drag it or lift it by its fins or tail);

10. When the rescue team arrives, tell them everything you have done, so they will have an idea of the mood of the whale or dolphin they’ll have to deal with.


Is a really good idea, if you’re going to the beach, to check out what kind of animals you can find there. This way, you will know what to do in such a stressful situation, and, maybe, you will save their lives!


You can find more information here: Info via: British Divers Marine Life Rescue/

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