What to do if you think you’ve found a whale, dolphin or other marine mammal in distress?
Do not approach the animal if you do not have the proper training because we can often make the situation worse if we don’t know what we’re doing. The best thing to do is stay back, call for help, and then monitor the animal until help arrives.
Different countries and regions have their own contact information for reporting marine mammals in distress. Listed below are the ones we know about. Please contact us if you have other ones to add.
New South Wales: ORRCA Whale and Dolphin Rescue Ph: 02 9415 3333
Northern Territory: Marine Wildwatch Ph: 1800 453 941
Queensland: RSPCA Ph: 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)
South Australia: National Parks and Wildlife Service Ph: 1300 650 411 Quote 465393
Tasmania: Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment Ph: 0427 942 537
Victoria: Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline Ph: 1300 136 017
Western Australia: Wildcare Ph: 08 9474 9055
Pacific Region: BC Marine Mammal Response Network (Observe, Record, Report):
Central & Arctic Region: Inuvik – 1-867-777-7500; Yellowknife – 1-867-669-4900; Iqaluit – 1-867-979-8000
Quebec Region: Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM): 1-877-722-5346; Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Poaching Alert): 1-800-463-9057
Gulf Region: Coast Guard: 1-800-565-1633
Maritimes Region: Marine Animal Response Society (non-governmental organization) 1-866-567-6277
Newfoundland & Labrador Region: Whale Release and Strandings Newfoundland and Labrador (Tangly Whales Inc.): 1-888-895-3003
Project Jonah 0800 4 WHALE
NOAA: 1-877-SOS-WHALE or their website
Florida: MOTE: 888-345-2335
What can you do to prevent entanglements and other causes of whale injuries?
Lose the Loop! – Cut any and all synthetic loops and packing bands, and make sure they get disposed of safely.
Reduce plastic – Reducing the use of plastic in our everyday lives can go a long way to reducing the amount of plastic ending up near marine mammals. You can also read about ten more tips to living plastic-free.
10 Things You Should Know about Marine Debris – from NOAA in the United States, a great resource about their Marine Debris Program
What does a distressed marine mammal look like?
A whale in distress spends more time at the surface or in one place. Its breathing may appear laboured and it may appear slow and lethargic or highly agitated. You may not see any signs of a foreign object on or around the whale but it’s important to keep in mind that you can only see a small percentage of its body and therefore approaching any animal who appears to be in distress is highly discouraged for anyone who does not have appropriate training. Some of these signs may also refer to an animal who is tired; therefore one should not always assume an animal is in distress. The best thing to do is to stay a safe distance away but to observe the animal for an hour, if possible, and note any changes and then contact the appropriate agencies (as listed on our site).