Here in the San Juan Islands we are constantly surrounded by beautiful marine wildlife. Our waters are home to a wide diversity of marine mammals including four species of whales, two species of dolphins, two species of porpoises, two species of seals, two species of sea lions, and we also have the possibility of seeing two species of otters! With such a great array of species, we sometimes come across injured or dead wildlife on our tours or while wandering the islands. With marine mammals these events are known as strandings. These may either be live-strandings or dead-strandings. For each, there are certain protocols that need to be followed to deal with the situation appropriately.
Here in San Juan we are very lucky to have the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which is comprised mostly of trained volunteers facilitated by the Whale Museum, as well as Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which has experience rehabilitating all of our local pinniped species. (Wolf Hollow is not rehabilitating harbor seals this year, 2016, but hopes that their rehabilitation program for these seals will start back up in 2017.)
If you think you have found an injured or deceased marine mammal do not touch it! You may be putting yourself, or the animal in danger! Call the San Juan Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at 1-800-562-8832 immediately with a description of what you are seeing and approximate location.
Lead Naturalist Sarah, M/V Seahawk, San Juan Outfitters