A live whale, dolphin or a porpoise stranded on the beach is obviously not a usual phenomenon. These mammals do not beach under normal circumstances, and they will require assistance.   If you see one on a beach, call British Divers Marine Life Rescue immediately and then give the mammal basic first aid as follows:

Do not put it back in the sea without advice from BDMLR or a vet. You may cause it additional and unnecessary suffering;

If the mammal is on its side and if it is small enough, gently roll it upright and dig shallow trenches beneath its pectoral fins.

Keep the mammal’s skin wet to stop it cracking and to keep it cool. Seaweed or wet sheets on its back will help. Pour water over it gently but do not allow any to enter the  blowhole.

Look for signs of injury and provide an accurate description of these, the size and species (if known) and location of the mammal to BDMLR. If you can send some photographs from your mobile phone then they will give you a phone number or email address to send them to.

Keep other people and dogs away – these can cause stress to the mammal.

Avoid inhaling the mammal’s breath and stay upwind if you are working close to the head.


contact the Scottish Marine Animals Stranding Scheme 
01463 243030 or 07979 245893

Call into the Coastwatch Beach Pavilion Office and report what you have seen.   We can arrange to send someone to view the mammal and can organise keeping the area clear and safe not only for the public but for the arriving medics. They will also make sure BDMLR HQ has been informed.

If you are unable to call or contact the Coastwatch Office or other authority 

What if the mammal is obviously dead?

What if you are unsure whether the mammal is alive or dead?

Unfortunately, not a lot can be done.  The Cetacean Stranding’s Investigation Programme collect a wide range of data on each stranding found on UK shores and may be interested in carrying out a post-mortem examination of any dead mammal you find.  This includes the location and date .found, the species and its sex, its overall length and its condition,  It would also be helpful if you could provide your contact details should further information be needed.  The investigator may want to take samples of the mammal which could include skin, blubber, tissue and perhaps teeth.   
As digital images are extremely helpful in the identification of stranded species, as well as acertaining whether the body may be suitable for post-mortem examination. If possible, please also forward any images that may have been taken with a digital camera or mobile.  The investigator may decide to leave the mammal on the beach for nature to take its own course and you should not be upset with this decision.