Whales, dolphins and porpoises are completely helpless on land. Most that come ashore are not healthy and will likely not survive. Seals and sea lions will come ashore to rest, molt, or escape from predators. A marine mammal is stranded when it is dead, or alive but unable to return to the ocean.
Marine Mammal Stranding Guidelines (excerpt from a publication of the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network)
If you find a stranded marine mammal, please note the following details:
When: Date you examined the animal, and when it was first observed.
Where: What is the exact location of the animal? What is the closest street?
Landmarks? What’s the nearest beach access? How far from access?
Size: Approximate total length and weight of the animal.
Appearance: Color and pattern of coat (solid or spotted?), and color of
whiskers (elephant seals have black whiskers).
Type of Animal: Is it a cetacean or a pinniped? Seal (wriggles on belly, no ear
flaps) or sea lion (moves on all four flippers, has ear flaps)?
Sounds: Is it making any noises? (California sea lions bark, Steller sea lions and
elephant seals growl and roar).
Tags: Does the animal have any tags or brands, and if so, location, number and
color? Try to read tag numbers from a safe distance, with binoculars.
Condition: Alive or dead? Plump, thin, emaciated? Does it appear sick, lethargic,
healthy, alert, active? How do the eyes look? Are wounds healed, raw, or
bloody? If the animal is dead, does it seem fresh? Decomposed?
Is the skin sloughing off? Is there a strong odor? Are the eyes intact?
How: Any obvious signs of injury? Net or line entanglement? Puncture wounds?
Photos: A picture is worth a thousand words – please photograph from all sides if
Safety: Are people interacting with the animal? Are there dogs nearby? Is the
animal a threat to people?
To Report Stranded Animals (24/7), please call: Oregon State Police 1-800-452-7888