Humboldt State University

Department of Biological Sciences

Vertebrate Museum

Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Marine Mammal Stranding Network

The California Marine Mammal Stranding Network (CMMSN) coordinates approximately 20 public and private institutions involved in recording the circumstances and biological information surrounding marine mammal strandings. The HSU Vertebrate Museum is responsible for all dead strandings from Pelican State Beach (near the Oregon border) to Siskyone Wilderness State Park (north of Highway 1, Mendocino County). We also assist in live strandings and the necropsy of specimens that die during rehabilitation efforts. Our participation includes gathering data on specimens (species, sex, size, condition, etc.), collecting tissue samples for toxicological and genetic studies, examining stomach contents and studying parasites.

If you find a stranded or deceased marine mammal in our region, please contact the Vertebrate Museum immediately and we will coordinate an effort to assist the stranded animal or to collect the specimen. The Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it illegal to harass living marine mammals or to collect or possess any parts of deceased marine mammals without proper permits and authorization.

To report a stranded marine mammal please provide the following information:

  1. A description of the animal. Estimate the size, color, and other distinguishing features. Is the animal a seal, sea lion, dolphin, or whale? Is the animal alive or injured? If not, what is the condition of the body (e.g., decomposed, missing parts)?
  2. An accurate description of the stranding location, including the name of the beach and the distance from the nearest parking lot, road or trail.
  3. Record the date and time you last saw the animal. Also, please leave your name and phone number in case you need to be contacted to provide further information.
  4. Please note any other information that may be valuable in finding the animal, or that may have contributed to the injury or death of the animal.

Vertebrate Museum Marine Mammal Stranding Contacts:

Dr. Dawn Goley, Stranding Coordinator
(707) 826-4168 or (707) 826-3650

Dr. Thorvald Holmes, Collections Manager
(707) 826-4872


if neither can be reached, please see the following website for up-to-date cell phone contact information:
Marine Mammal Education & Research Program - Strandings

HSU Vertebrate Museum • 1 Harpst St. • Arcata, CA 95521 • Contact Us.