UK whale and dolphin strandings

Every year, hundreds of whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) are stranded on British shores. Museum scientists compile information on strandings and conduct important research on the beached animals. The cetacean strandings project website offers helpful advice for anyone who finds a stranded animal.

Cetacean strandings project

Every year, between 350 and 800 whales, dolphins and porpoises wash up on British shores. Most are dead, but some are still alive. The Museum is responsible for monitoring these strandings. Since the cetacean strandings project started in 1913, more than 25,000 animals have been recorded. 

Museum scientists study the remains of dead stranded cetaceans to learn more about their biology. Their investigations reveal how many cetaceans strand in Britain each year, what species they are, where and when they strand, and the age and sex of the animals. They also research animal behaviour and uncover causes of death.

The Museum's strandings project is part of the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP). The data our scientists compile is used by other researchers, government agencies, conservationists and animal welfare groups. The information they provide is vital to increasing our understanding of whales, dolphins and porpoises, and conserving them in the future.

The cetacean strandings project is one of the longest-running scientific investigations of its kind. It has generated a wealth of crucial information about these captivating marine mammals.

What the project’s website offers you

The cetacean strandings project website is of interest to anyone wanting to know more about the project. It offers advice on what to do if you have found a stranded cetacean, and draws attention to important health and safety issues. The site also lists the whales, dolphins and porpoises found in British waters.

Go to the cetacean strandings project website