Stranded whales and dolphins

What to do

If you find a LIVE stranded or injured whale or dolphin on the beach or in the shallows, send for help QUICKLY.

A whale or dolphin stranding is an emergency and speed of response by a professional rescue team is perhaps the most crucial factor in determining whether or not the animal may be returned to the sea.

  • Telephone for help, making sure you can provide an accurate location and description of the casualty. If in Scotland, call CRRU on 01261 851696 or BDMLR on 01825 765546

  • You can also contact your nearest Police station or local SSPCA on 0300 0999 999. They should know what to do and who to call

  • Meanwhile, return to the scene and wait for help to arrive

  • Try to keep dogs and members of the public at a distance to avoid further stress to the animal

  • If you can find help, gently roll the animal over onto its front and keep its skin wet by dousing with seawater

  • Do NOT pull the animal by its fins or tail flukes and be VERY careful not to get water down the blowhole when dousing

  • Also, be extremely careful of the teeth and tail. DO NOT PUT YOURSELF AT RISK. Whales and dolphins are powerful animals and they can carry diseases that are transferrable to humans.

  • If in doubt, WAIT for help to arrive.

If you find a DEAD whale or dolphin (in any condition), however, secure the carcass above the high water mark, if possible, and make exact notes on its location (with reference to maps or local features), then contact the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS) on 01463 243030 (or 07979 245893 outside office hours).

In England or Wales, telephone the UK Strandings Hotline (freephone number) on 0800 6520333 or visit

In Northern Ireland, call 08 023 2381251

Download a copy of our Scottish Strandings Poster, with contact numbers and advice on what to do if you find a stranded dolphin or seal.

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