How do I report a stranding?

You don't need to be an expert to help us identify a stranded animal. Photos, basic observations and location all provide useful data.

Fill out our report form

If you find a living whale, dolphin or porpoise please report it to the RSPCA, SSPCA or British Divers Marine Life Rescue.  

If you find a dead whale, dolphin or porpoise please report it to the local coast guard and then to us using our Whale, dolphin and porpoise strandings form PDF (244.9 KB)

The form can be returned by post or email.

Making a report

Some basic measurements or estimations, observations and photos can be an enormous help in identifying species. However, always keep your own safety in mind. Avoid touching dead animals and beware of hazards on the beach such as dangerous rocks and rising tides.

More important safety issues

If the animal is still fresh check to see if it is in a position where it could be retrieved for post-mortem.

Description

Even a photo taken by a smart phone can be invaluable. If you have no way to take pictures, some basic descriptions can help, such as:

Whale baleen

Close-up of the baleen inside the mouth of a gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus.

  • description of the animal's head, beak and forehead
  • does it have teeth or baleen?
  • are the teeth needle or spade shaped?
  • colour of the skin, including any white patches or stripes
  • state of decomposition: fresh, moderately decomposed or very decomposed

Location

Please provide:

  • the name of the beach
  • the name of the county 
  • a grid reference if possible

Ordnance Survey: Find a grid reference

Photos

Photos are really important as they give us a definite identification. 
Please take:

  • full-length photo
  • head shot
  • photo of the genital region (so we can have definite gender identification) 
  • photos of any unusual marks

Live strandings

If you find a live stranded marine animal, please contact the following authorities:

England and Wales  
RSPCA 
Tel: +44 (0)300 1234999
British Divers Marine Life Rescue 
Tel: +44 (0)1825 765546

Scotland
SSPCA
Tel: +44 (0)131 3390111

Dead strandings

If you find dead stranded marine animal, please contact:

England (cetaceans) 
The Natural History Museum  
Tel: +44 (0)207 942 5155 
Email us

Whale, dolphin and porpoise strandings form PDF (244.9 KB)

England (seals and turtles) 
Zoological Society of London 
Tel: +44 (0)207 4496672

Wales (all species)
Marine Environmental Monitoring 
Tel: +44 (0)1348 875000 
Email: info@strandings.demon.co.uk

Scotland (all species)
SAC Veterinary Services
Tel: +44 (0)1463 243030 
Tel:+44 (0)7979 245893 (out of hours)

Cornwall (all species)
Cornish Wildlife Trust Strandings Network
Tel: +44 (0)845 2012626