Stranding Network

What is the MLML Stranding Network?

The MLML Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Network responds to all dead stranded pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), cetaceans (dolphins, whales, and porpoises), and sea turtles in Monterey County, California. Our stranding network is run by graduate students and interns of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Vertebrate Ecology Lab in partnership with the NOAA Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.

Our goal is to examine marine mammals and sea turtles to document life history information, investigate the cause of death, collect tissues for analysis, and recover specimens for anatomical and systematic investigations. We also assess every stranded animal for signs of human interaction such as gunshot wounds, ship strike injuries, or entanglement in marine debris. Learn more about the types of strandings we respond to by viewing our stranding case studies.

We rely on the public to report stranded animals to our hotline. If you find a dead pinniped, cetacean, or sea turtle in Monterey County please email us at or call the MLML Stranding Hotline at 831-771-4422.

I found a stranded animal. Now what?

If you find a sick, injured, distressed, or dead marine mammal or sea turtle please do not touch, pick up, or attempt to rescue the animal. Both live and dead stranded animals can carry zoonotic diseases and untrained responders can easily be injured by these wild animals. The most important thing you can do is to call the stranding network that covers your location (complete list available here) and provide as much information as possible so they can coordinate an appropriate response.

When reporting a stranded animal to the MLML Stranding Network or any of our partner organizations, please have the following info available:

  • Animal description: species, size, etc.
  • Location: please be as specific as possible (nearby landmarks, businesses, or street intersections are ideal)
  • Your contact info: so we can follow up with you if we have any additional questions
  • Photosif you can please take a few photos of the animal

California Stranding Network Partners

While the MLML Stranding Network responds to only dead pinnipeds, cetaceans, and sea turtles in Monterey County, we collaborate with a number of other stranding networks that respond to both live and dead stranded animals in our surrounding counties. Our main California stranding network partners are listed below, but the complete list of US stranding networks can be found here.

MMPA + Marine Mammal Permits

Marine mammals in the United States are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This act prohibits harassment, feeding, hunting and/or killing of all marine mammals in US waters including pinnipeds, cetaceans, sirenians, sea otters, and polar bears. The MLML Stranding Network is authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service to respond to dead stranded pinnipeds, cetaceans, and sea turtles in Monterey County.