UK Whale and Dolphin Strandings
At a glance
Report stranded whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Type of activity: Outdoors
Who can take part? Everyone
When? All year round
How long will it take? No set time
Contribute to our understanding of UK marine mammals by telling us about any stranded whales, dolphins and porpoises you find.
Why we are doing the project
Whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) are a fascinating group of mammals that lead mysterious lives below the waves.
To expose some of these mysteries, the Museum started recording cetacean strandings in 1913. We are now a partner in the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which has expanded to include seals, basking sharks and marine turtles that strand along the UK coastline.
We rely on the public to report any incidents of these stranded animals to us so we can unravel the events leading up to the moment of death. We try to respond quickly in the hope of collecting the stranded animal for post-mortem examination.
How to take part
Turn your daily dog walk or Sunday stroll along the UK coast into a dedicated search for strandings.
If you spot a stranded cetacean on the shoreline or in the surf please do the following:
1. Take a photograph. This is invaluable for species identification and assessing the level of decomposition (which affects whether we do a post-mortem examination).
2. Estimate the animal's size in metres or feet.
3. Note the exact location and date.
4. Send these details and your photos to email@example.com or call 0800 6520 333.
We would also like reports on stranded seals, basking sharks and turtles.
Results so far
We record approximately 500 strandings of marine animals every year. Post-mortem examinations reveal information about causes of death, diseases, environmental contaminant levels, reproductive patterns, diet and baseline data on UK populations.
A summary of the scientific reports and a list of peer-reviewed papers published by the programme are available on the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme website.
Read our blog to learn more about the Museum's cetacean strandings work.
- Scott Wilson, Cetacean Strandings Support Officer
- Brian Smith, Cetacean Strandings Support Officer
Past project team members:
- Louise Allan, Cetacean Strandings Support Officer
- Rebecca Lyal, Cetacean Strandings Support Officer
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government, as part of the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme.
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