Safety issues

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.

Keep contact to a minimum

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.

Ensure a high standard of personal hygiene

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.

Wear protective clothing

Use gloves, masks, overalls, waterproof aprons and wellington boots as appropriate.
Avoid spray contaminated with the animal's bodily fluids which may be accidentally ingested or inhaled.
Wash all protective clothing thoroughly after use if you are keeping it.

Avoid injury

If you are injured during contact or become ill following contact, seek medical advice as soon as possible. Inform you doctor that you have been in contact with a stranded animal. Wash, disinfect and dress andy cuts and grazes.

Do not become a stranding
Stranded sperm whale

A 16 metre (52 foot) male sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, stranded at Atwick, Humberside in December 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:

  • the state of the tideĀ 
  • the possibility of escape from the area when the tide is in
  • the weather forecast for the possible extra effects of a storm
  • the possibility of injury through simply falling over
  • the physical demands of reaching the animal
Disposal of the carcass

You should leave disposal of the carcass 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.