Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals through rescue and rehabilitation, research and education.


Cetacean Response Protocol - 1(800)9-MAMMAL

Reports of marine mammal strandings from across the globe are on the increase.  These dolphins, whales, manatees, sea lions and other marine mammals often end up on beaches and in shallow water. This is called a stranding. You can help save these animals by following these first aid tips.

  • Call the local stranding network (In Texas call 1-800-9-MAMMAL) or call local police with the location of the stranding, even if the animal is dead. Valuable research about these animals and our environment can be gained.

  •  DO NOT return the animal to the sea. They are there for a reason, usually sick or injured.
    Keep people and pets away from the animal. Only one or two people are needed until expert help arrives. Do not leave the animal; they need comfort and cannot keep themselves upright.

  • Relieve pressure on fins by digging holes under them. To relieve pressure on lungs you can dig a pit under the mammal and fill the pit with water.

  • Keep the animal cool and wet by splashing water on the skin. Avoid getting water in the blowhole.

  •  Apply wet towels or T-shirts and provide a shade if possible using tarps or towels. Keep the blowhole free of obstruction and take care not to cover the dorsal fin, flippers or tail.

  • Apply sunscreens or zinc oxide, NOT suntan oil. The dolphin's skin is very sensitive and can burn severely.
    Apply ice packs to the dorsal fin, pectoral flippers, or flukes to keep the animal from overheating, but do not let the ice contact the skin directly.

  • If the animal is in the surf, support it upright. Keep water out of the blowhole. If possible, carefully move mammal into shallow water but keep it in the water.

  • Be careful around the powerful tail and mouth.

  • Following these tips can keep the animal alive and reduce its stress until help arrives. After it is recovered, the local stranding network takes charge of feeding and nursing the mammal back to health.

Volunteers are needed to watch dolphins during their recovery 24 hours a day and food, medicines and other supplies can cost up to $400 a day. If you can volunteer to help or support our efforts please visit our Volunteer Page.