If you discover an injured or sick-looking marine mammal

see below…




In 2018, harbor and gray seals are dying by the hundreds from Southern Maine to northern Massachusetts, apparently from a combination of a measles-like illness and the flu. Beachgoers may encounter these sick seals during the 2018-2019 winter migration of harbor and gray seals to beaches in southern New England, New York, New Jersey, Delaware or states farther south.



If you see a sick, injured, stranded, or dead marine mammal, immediately contact your local stranding network (phone numbers provided below).



Connecticut/Rhode Island

Mystic Aquarium - Mystic, CT

Phone: (860) 572-5955 x 107


MERR Institute, Inc. - Nassau, DE

Phone: (302) 228-5029


Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline

Phone: (800) 532-9551


Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory

Oxford, MD

(dead animals only)

Phone: (800) 628-9944

National Aquarium in Baltimore, Marine Animal Rescue Program

Baltimore, MD

(live animals only)

Phone: (410) 576-3880


NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region, Protected Resources Division

Gloucester, MA

Phone: (978) 281-9300

Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Phone: (508) 349-2615

New England Aquarium

Boston, MA

Phone: (617) 973-5247

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Yarmouth Port, MA

Phone: (508) 743-9548

National Marine Life Center

Buzzards Bay, MA

(pinniped [seal] rehab only)

Phone: (508) 743-9888

Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

Provincetown, MA

(entangled animals in the marine environment only)

Phone: (800) 900-3622

Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket

Nantucket, MA

Phone: (833) 667-6626

New Hampshire

Seacoast Science Center

Rye, NH

Phone: (603) 997-9448

New England Aquarium

Boston, MA

Phone: (617) 973-5247


New Jersey

Marine Mammal Stranding Center

Phone: 609-266-0538.



New York City & Harbor

Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation 

Phone: 631-369-9829. 

New York State - Long Island

New York Stranding Hotline

Phone: (631) 369-9829

Atlantic Marine Conservation Society

Hampton Bays, NY

Phone: (631) 369-9829


Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

Virginia Beach, VA

Phone: (757) 385-7575

Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian Institute, National Museum of Natural History

Washington, DC

Phone: (202) 633-1260

To report a marine mammal that is sick-looking or injured in another state not listed here, follow this link to NOAA Fisheries and follow their instructions.

You can also use NOAA’s Dolphin and Whale 911 app to report a stranded marine mammal. The app is available for Android devices as well as Apple devices.

The above organizations have the authority to help stranded or sick marine mammals and sea turtles. Wildlife biologists and experts with the help of trained volunteers will determine if an animal is in need of medical attention, needs to be moved from a populated area, or just needs time to rest.




  • Never try to feed a marine mammal.

  • Everyone needs to stay back at least 100 yards if possible, and keep your dog(s) or another pet on a leash and away from a marine mammal. 

  •  Boats should also not come closer than 100 yards of a marine mammal.  

  •  No one should be touching or trying to feed or get near any marine mammal. It’s against federal law.

  • Never get close to a marine mammal. Many species have nasty bacteria in their mouth. If a person gets bitten, this bacteria can cause swelling, pain, and joint damage, and is resistant to some antibiotics. 

All marine mammals (including seals, whales, dolphins, and porpoises ) are protected by federal law under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Federal marine mammal regulations prohibit harassing or touching seals and it is considered harassment. What is harassment? It’s when a person or a group of people disturb, injure, or interfere with a marine mammal’s ability to hunt, feed, communicate, socialize, rest, breed, or care for its young.

Marine mammals are federally managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries division. If you feed, touch, harass, or pick up a marine mammal you may be investigated by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement for violating marine mammal regulations.

 If you see a marine mammal being harassed by a person, call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline,


The hotline is available 24 hours a day to report possible violations or provide information to help solve a case.

Examples of violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeding, injuring, or killing dolphins, whales, seals, sea lions, or any other marine mammal.

  • Feeding, injuring, or killing sea turtles or harvesting sea turtle eggs.  

  • Intentional mislabeling of seafood for profit.

  • Buying or selling fish without the proper permits. 


Of course not every marine mammal we encounter will be sick. An animal may appear on a beach or near the coast and often this is not an emergency. Seals naturally use a beach to rest and digest food. Marine mammals become tired and need to rest just like people. Many healthy seals often rest on ocean or bay beaches for more than 24 hours before returning to the open water to forage for food.

Do not touch, tease or threaten the animal. It is always a good idea to be respectful and observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee. Never drive an animal back into the water or deeper water. Never try to feed a wild animal or pet a wild animal or take a selfie with a wild animal.

Many wild animals, including seals, do not like to be touched. They do not want dead fish or other food that people try to feed them.

Never get close to a marine mammal. They can bite in self-defense! Yes, they look cute and cuddly, but they are wild animals!

It would undoubtedly be a better world if everyone had a much greater respect and understanding for animal life than most people do.

A juvenile harp seal resting on a sandy beach downstream from New York City.

A juvenile harp seal resting on a sandy beach downstream from New York City.