Museum strandings research

The Museum collates all information about strandings in England and Wales.

Where there is the possibility of post-mortem examination, the Museum collaborates with the Zoological Society of London to determine cause of death.

Within the strandings database, each animal is given an individual stranded whale number. Attached to this is information on species, sex, location and cause of death. 

All data is uploaded to the National Biodiversity Network, an open-access resource for UK biodiversity information.

The Museum's cetacean strandings project is a part of the government-funded Cetaceans Strandings Investigation Program (CSIP) that covers the whole of the UK. Within this, our responsibilities are to:

Harbour porpoise

Harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena

  • investigate the cause of death of stranded cetaceans
  • look for patterns of long-term feeding strategies and seasonal distribution
  • be vigilant to any new threats to cetaceans that could affect their conservation status
  • maintain an extensive photographic database
  • maintain a cetacean tissue archive
  • write an annual report for Defra
  • submit data on strandings and post mortems for ASCOBANS (Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas)