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What to Do for Stranded Dolphins

FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Two men who found a stranded dolphin righted the mammal so it wasn’t laying on its side.";

Dead or sickened sea life is once again washing ashore in Southwest Florida and scientist believe red tide is to blame. Since last Wednesday, 39 dolphin carcases have washed ashore. 

With the chances high that beachgoers may happen upon a sick or dead sea mamal, here are some tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries' web page:

  • DON’T push the animal back out to sea! Stranded marine mammals may be sick or injured. Returning animals to sea delays examination and treatment and often results in the animal re-stranding in worse condition.
  • DO stay with the animal until rescuers arrive, but use caution. Marine mammals can be dangerous and/or carry disease. Keep a safe distance from the head and tail. Also, minimize contact with the animal (use gloves if necessary) and avoid inhaling the animal’s expired air.
  • If the animal is alive, DO keep its skin moist and cool by splashing water over its body. Use wet towels to help keep the skin moist and prevent sunburn.
  • If the animal is alive, DON’T cover or obstruct the blowhole. Try to keep sand and water away from the blowhole.
  • DO keep crowds away and noise levels down to avoid causing further stress to the animal.
  • DO report all dead marine mammals, even if they are decomposed.
  • DO keep dogs/pets away from the live or dead marine mammal.
  • DON’T collect any parts (tissues, teeth, bones, or gear, etc.) from dead animals. They are still covered by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

If you see dead sea life, sick animals, or discolored water from red tide, NOAA officials urge you to call 1-877-WHALE HELP, or 1-877-942-5343. 

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