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Report wildlife that seems abandoned, injured, or sick
Leave it to the experts

Contact NOAA’s National Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1864 or use the Whale Alert app.

Seeing marine wildlife on the beach does not always need to be cause for concern. The national marine sanctuaries are home to a wide variety of marine animals, many of which come to shore to rest and feed. Sea turtles, seabirds, seals, and sea lions spend a significant portion of their time on land to lay eggs, rest, molt, or give birth. It is always important to keep your distance and not approach these animals, even if you think something might be wrong with them. If an animal appears injured, sick, or orphaned, the best way to help is to contact wildlife authorities. Letting the experts handle things ensures both your own and the animal’s safety.

Seal in the water entangled in a fishing net

If you see entangled or distressed marine life while out and about in your sanctuary, make sure to report it immediately to authorities.

Photo: Douglas Croft/NOAA

While it may feel compelling to rush to a distressed animal’s side to help, doing so is potentially dangerous. Not only could you or the animal get hurt, but animals could be infected with contagious diseases. For example, California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and other marine mammals may be infected with leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can cause kidney damage and even death. Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans, dogs, and other animals, and potential exposure to this disease is not a risk worth taking. Remember, if you see an animal showing signs of illness or spot an animal that appears to be abandoned, call the experts and don’t put yourself in harm’s way.

Seal rests on the beach.

Many marine animals, like this sleepy Hawaiian monk seal, spend a good deal of time out of the water. Spotting wildlife on land is not immediate cause for concern, as this is a normal part of life for some animals.


Photo: Andy Collins/NOAA

A person disentangles a sea turtle from a fishing net on a beach

Turtles and other marine animals can easily become entangled in debris. Wildlife experts can help to assist and disentangle distressed animals.


Photo: Eryn Opie/Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resource

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