Stranding Response

What is a Stranding?

If you spend any amount of time on the water or near the coastline of any country, you may come across a dolphin, whale, manatee, or sea turtle that is distressed (entangled, ill, or injured) or deceased. Scientists who work with these animals that may be found on shore refer to them as stranded animals. Generally, these animals are considered ill, injured, or intoxicated until proven otherwise and should not be pushed back into the water. Since time is of the essence, please call the people who are available and trained to rescue or evaluate these animals, by calling the number above.

What happens during a stranding response?

UF Marine Animal Rescue relies on members of the boating public, as well as recreational and commercial fishing participants and captains, to call us if they see a deceased or distressed (entangled, ill, or injured) dolphin, whale, manatee, or sea turtle in Levy, Dixie, or Taylor county. If you come across an ill or stranded animal, please take a photo or video, make note of your location (GPS coordinates are best), and call 352-477-0344 to provide us with this information. Please stay near the animal until you have spoken to us.

If the animal has stranded alive, our team of experts will provide first aid. First aid for marine animals includes keeping the animal upright, shaded, moist, and monitoring its respiration rate – how quickly or slowly it is breathing. Our veterinary team will provide oxygen, necessary emergency drugs, and draw blood samples to better understand what is happening internally. If the animal is a good candidate for rehabilitation, we travel with the animal to a marine mammal or sea turtle rehabilitation facility.

If the animal has been found deceased, our team can still collect information to explain what may have happened. For deceased animals, we record body measurements, the sex, and life history stage (if it was a calf, juvenile, or adult). We take photos of any markings (scars, wounds, or nicks) on the body that may help us identify the individual and its cause of death. We then do a necropsy or autopsy, which includes an internal evaluation for injury, illness, and possible toxins from the environment.

Florida Gulf Coast Stranding Response Map

The UF Marine Animal Rescue Program covers dolphin, whale, manatee and sea turtle strandings in Levy, Dixie, and Taylor county.  Geographic areas covered are shown on the map below.

stranding area map

Stranding Observation Map

2017-2021 UF MAR Responses

Alive deceased total
Cetacean (dolphin or whale) 17 13 30
Florida Manatee 21 44 65
Sea Turtle 13 32 45
North American River Otter 1 0 1
Other 19 2 21
Total 71 91 162

Click on the images above to see full-size photos and captions.

*All cetacean, manatee, and sea turtle efforts are conducted under proper permits and authorization. Cetacean efforts are conducted under a Stranding Agreement between NOAA/NMFS. Manatee efforts are conducted under FWS permit MA770191. Sea turtle efforts are conducted under FWC MTP-20-194.