British Divers Marine Life Rescue

British Divers Marine Life Rescue Picture 1

What to do if you find a live stranded marine mammal

Please note the place, the state of the tide and any injuries you can see without getting close and call 01825 765546 during office hours.
After 5pm on working days, or at weekends or Bank Holidays, please call our out of hours number on 07787 433412 (NB: this number does not receive texts or pictures). We will then advise you on what to do and will get a trained medic out as soon as possible.

If you find a live whale, dolphin or porpoise stranded on the beach this is obviously not a usual phenomenon. These animals do not beach themselves under normal circumstances, and they will require assistance.

If you find a live seal Watch it from a distance. Do not approach the animal. Seals regularly haul out on our coasts - it is part of their normal behaviour. Therefore, finding a seal on the beach does not mean there is necessarily a problem. A healthy seal should be left well alone.

However, if there is a problem, there are a number of things you may see:

  • Abandoned: If you see a seal with a white, long-haired coat in the autumn/winter, or you see a small seal (less than 3 feet in length) alone between June and August, then it is probably still suckling from its mother. Check the sea regularly for any sign of an adult seal.
  • Thin: Signs of malnutrition include visible ribs, hips and neck and perhaps a rather baggy, wrinkled skin.
  • Sick: Signs of ill health include : coughing, sneezing or noisy, rapid breathing and possibly thick mucus coming from the nose, wounds or swellings, particularly on the flippers, and possibly favouring one flipper when moving (although remember that healthy seals will often lie and ‘hunch along’ on their sides) cloudy eyes, or thick mucus around them, or possibly one eye kept closed most of the time a seal showing little response to any disturbance going on around it (although remember they could be soundly asleep).

If you see a seal that may be abandoned, thin or ill, then call for advice and assistance:

BDMLR hotline: 01825 765546 (office hours) or 07787 433412 (out of hours)

Contact Details

Telephone: 01825 765546