Stranding Guidelines

Alaska SeaLife Center Distressed Mammal Observation Guidelines:

Call First! If you see a stranded or injured marine animal


Please call the Stranded Marine Animal Hotline: 

1-888-774-SEAL (7325)


Important: It is illegal to pick up a marine mammal unless authorized by US Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA/NMFS. The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) states all viewing must be at a distance which must not disturb the animal or change its natural behavior.

It is very important for human and animal safety to follow all of the following guidelines for observing a marine mammal possibly in distress.

  • Do not approach, touch, or feed the animal.
  • Help keep all people and domestic animals away.
  • Continue to note all physical characteristics and behaviors.
  • Continue to observe for any other animals in the area.
  • Take detailed notes with times of observations.
  • While you are assisting with crowd control and observations, you should call the ASLC, or local authorities, if you have any problems with individuals harassing the animal.
  • If the animal returns to the water, continue to observe until it is out of sight. Report to the ASLC.
  • If the animal shows signs of health deterioration, call the ASLC immediately.
  • Contact the ASLC every two hours with observations unless instructed differently. Include contact numbers of observers on site.


Try to gather the following information and call the ASLC Rescue and Rehabilitation Stranding Hotline as soon as possible:

  • Note physical characteristics.
  • Does the animal appear extremely skinny or weak?
  • Are there any obvious signs of injury?
  • Is the animal alone or are there other wild animals in the area?
  • How long have you observed this animal?

If possible, take digital photos of the animal and the area.

Gather as much information as possible before you call using the Observation Form. If available, have someone continue to observe the animal and keep others away. ASLC Wildlife Response staff will guide you as to what to do next.


1-888-774-7325 (SEAL) with any questions or concerns.