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Marine Animal Rescue and Response

HOTLINE: 617-688-6872

Marine Animal Rescue and Response (MARR) Overview

Our team relies on reports that come in to our hotline (617-688-6872) to alert us of a stranded marine mammal.

If you come across a stranded marine mammal...

  1. Call our hotline at (617) 688-6872. - The sooner you call, the sooner we can help the animal.
  2. Keep your distance. We recommend making a minimum buffer zone of 150 feet (45 meters) between you and the stranded animal to keep both humans and animals safe.
  3. Note your location -This will help responders know where to find the animal. Dropping a pin on your smartphone or saving the latitude and longitude is most helpful, but simple landmarks on the beach will also help our team.
  4. Take photos - Using the zoom feature on your phone, take pictures of the animal from a distance. We can get a lot of information from these pictures!

WDC's MARR team responds to marine mammals from Weymouth to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

WDC's response area, extending from Webb-Memorial State Park in Weymouth through Plymouth, MA. The blue line shows the current response area and the pink line shows the new territory (~200 miles of coastline in total). Credit: WDC

In our Marine Animal Rescue and Response program, WDC's team act as first responders to marine mammals who are in distress.

We call these events "strandings" and there are two different types.


“Live strandings” are when a marine mammal is alive but needs medical intervention or is unable to get back to the water on their own.

In our area, we are most likely to have strandings of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and seals. These events are often stressful for the stranded animal, especially for the whales, dolphins, and porpoises who live exclusively in water.

WDC’s rescue and response team will act as first responders and go to where the animals are on land and evaluate their health to determine the next steps to help them. This may include going to a rehabilitation facility, being relocated and released, or helping them get back into the water.


The other type of stranding is for animals who have died. WDC’s rescue and response team will do examinations of the deceased animal to see if there are any signs of injury or disease and learn more about why that animal died.

By collecting important data during responses to living and dead marine mammals, we can gain a better understanding of how marine mammal populations are doing, what threats they face, and learn more about their biology, behavior, and culture.

A large percentage of the strandings in our area are seals, but our team is also equipped and prepared to respond to dolphins, porpoises, and large whales.

Our rescue and response team has a hotline (617-688-6872) where anyone can call and report a marine mammal who needs our help in our area.

WDC is authorized by NOAA to respond to marine mammals as a member of the Greater Atlantic Regional Marine Mammal Stranding Network.


Fast Facts

Our response area covers over 200 miles of Massachusetts coastline, covering the towns of Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury, Marshfield, Cohasset, Hull, Hingham and Weymouth and Scituate.

WDC's MARR team is the newest member of NOAA's Greater Atlantic Marine Mammal Stranding Network - a network of organizations extending from Maine to Virginia.

Since 1972, marine mammals have been protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, making it illegal to harm or harass them.

Grey seals and harbor seals can be found along the Massachusetts coast year-round, but harp seals and hooded seals only visit our area in the winter.

If you see a stranded marine mammal, stay 150 feet away, note your location (lat/long), take a photo (from afar), and call WDC’s hotline at 617-688-6872.

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