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Spotted dolphin jumping in the ocean

Marine Mammal Stranding Program

a manatee drinks water from a hose at peir

Report a Manatee Sighting

Have you spotted a manatee in North Carolina? Please report your sighting to us. Manatees are federally protected, so your report helps safeguard them. Thank you for giving them space and contributing to their conservation.

Marine Mammal Stranding FAQs

A stranding is the beaching of a live or dead marine mammal. Marine mammal strandings are relatively common events along the North Carolina coast. North Carolina experiences the highest number of strandings, per unit length of beach, of any state along the Atlantic or Gulf coasts. We also experience the highest species diversity of marine mammals along the Atlantic coast. All but two species known to occur in the North Atlantic have stranded on North Carolina beaches. 

A marine mammal stranding is also an important event that offers researchers a unique opportunity to gather data from these federally protected species. Those data are used to better understand the biology of marine mammals, to document our impacts on them, and ultimately to help ensure their conservation.

Our primary response area, in which we respond to live and dead stranded marine mammals includes Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender and Onslow counties, North Carolina. We also travel to other areas within our state and region to assist our colleagues when requested. 

Animals include species of large whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and manatees.

Beginning in the fall 2014, UNCW undergraduates began a process of creating marine mammal species fact sheets to share with their colleagues and the public. Bottlenose dolphins will be added this spring, and more species will be forthcoming. Keep an eye on this website got more information coming soon!

Stranding program hands on training on how to safely place a marine mammal in a stretcher

Join Our Team as a Volunteer!

Dive into a world of hands-on learning & marine exploration. Our dynamic team is a mix of volunteers, students, faculty & staff from the Department of Biology & Marine Biology. Fill out our volunteer interest form below & become a valued member of our volunteer community.

Join the Wave of Support!

Our Marine Mammal Stranding Program depends on the support of individuals like you. Every contribution, whether big or small, helps support our mission to understand, preserve & protect our marine mammals.