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.
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.
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.
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:
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.