What should I do if I see a sick or injured (stranded) marine animal?

To help a sick or injured dolphin, whale, manatee or sea turtle in Levy, Dixie or Taylor county, call UF Marine Animal Rescue at 352-477-0344 or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), who will forward your call to us. We’ll walk you through what to do.

While UF MAR is only legally permitted to respond to dolphins, whales, manatees and sea turtles. Other rescue groups are responsible for birds or otters. Please go to Seabird Rehabilitators and Transporters (floridamarine.org) to locate assistance. We can help in some cases.

  • Your name and call back number
  • Your location, including an address or waterway marker (GPS location is preferred)
  • The type of marine animal(s) involved and number
  • Are the animals alive, dead, in distress or injured?
  • If you are with an animal stranded on the shore, do not push it back out into the water. If you do that, we might lose our chance to help.
  • Do not handle the animal. Stay far enough away, on land or in a boat, to avoid injuring yourself or scaring the animal.
  • Be aware that it is actually illegal to touch, harass or in any way influence the behavior of a marine animal. Please only take photos or videos from a safe distance to share with UF MAR.
  • Please stay in the area until help arrives, so that we can easily find you.
  • Call if you have any further questions.
  • Your help is greatly appreciated!

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.