The advice for the general public is not to touch any stranded animal: inform the relevant authorities. If contact with any animal is unavoidable please follow these guidelines for your own safety.
Live animals may cause injury through biting or thrashing about. They may also produce contaminated fluids (e.g. from the blow hole). Ideally, expert assistance should be present.
Small cuts and abrasions to the skin should be kept covered with secure waterproof dressing as as a precaution. After contact, exposed skin should be washed thoroughly before eating and drinking.
Gloves, masks, overalls, waterproof aprons and wellington boots should be worn as appropriate.
Avoid spray contaminated with the animal's bodily fluids which may be accidentally ingested or inhaled.
All protective clothing should be washed thoroughly after use if it is to be kept.
If you are injured during contact or become ill following contact seek medical advice as soon as possible. Informing you doctor that you have been in contact with a stranded animal. Cuts and grazes should be washed, disinfected, and dressed.
A 52 ft male sperm whale stranded at Atwick, Humberside in Dec 1993.
Strandings can occur in secluded areas of the coast and the terrain can be very uneven or loose. Before you approach a stranded animal, be sure to check:
Disposal of the carcass should be left to the relevant authorities. This may be the responsibility of the local Council or it may fall to the Receiver of Wrecks and aides. Disposal may involve simple burial or, at the other extreme, incineration after isolation.