- ECWR Stranding Hotline: 855-STRAND1 (855-787-2631) or,
- Southeast Region Stranding Network 24-hour hotline
1-877-942-5343 (1-877-WHALE HELP)
The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR) has provided marine mammal response for the western Florida panhandle since 1994. ECWR is authorized by NOAA to respond to these federally protected animals as a member organization of the national marine mammal stranding network.
If you see a stranded, injured or entangled marine mammal or sea turtle do NOT push it back! Please contact our hotline at 855-STRAND1 (855-787-2631) immediately. If you are outside of our response area please call 1-877-WHALE HELP (877-942-5343).
Our coverage area spans:
- Walton County
- Okaloosa County
- Santa Rosa County
- Escambia County
- Choctawhatchee Bay
- Santa Rosa Sound
- Pensacola & East Bay
- Big Lagoon
- Perdido Bay
- over 85 miles of Gulf beaches and 350 miles of inland shoreline.
The ECWR Stranding Team is composed of experienced marine wildlife professionals working under an established NOAA Stranding Agreement and FWC sea turtle permits. Led by a Stranding Coordinator and Veterinarian, our refuge staff and Stranding Team volunteers respond to marine mammals and sea turtles year-round. We cover 4 counties and respond to an average of more than 20 whales and dolphins and about 12 sea turtles each year.
We typically see greater stranding events in the winter months when environmental changes can cause increased mortality in wild populations from November to March. We additionally see an increase in dolphin strandings during the Spring birthing season from March to May. We receive reports of dolphins hit by boat props, entangled in fishing gear or stranded for other reasons year-round.
The most commonly stranded marine mammal in the Gulf of Mexico is the Bottlenose Dolphin, however we have responded to many other species such as the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Pygmy Sperm Whale, and Gervais Beaked Whale. When requested, we aid FWC in monitoring or responding to Florida Manatees. The most commonly stranded sea turtle in the Gulf of Mexico is the loggerhead sea turtle, but we have responded to green, leatherback, hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles as well.
- Do NOT push it back! It NEEDS medical attention!
- Do NOT approach, touch or pour water on the animal!
- They are dangerous and may carry disease
- Report the animal to 855-STRAND1 (855-787-2631) or 877-WHALE HELP (877-942-5343) immediately
- Take notes, observe and monitor the animal as requested by stranding personnel
- Send photos, videos and location information to 855-STRAND1 (855-787-2631)
- Keep people and pets away from the animal
- Stranding staff will advise you if further steps are necessary