Marine Mammal Stranding Program

What is a Stranding?

Beaked whale on the beach

UNCW stranding volunteers respond to a beached, juvenile
beaked whale (Mesoplodon europaeus)

A stranding is the beaching of a live or dead marine mammal. North Carolina experiences the highest number of strandings, per unit length of beach, of any state along the Atlantic or Gulf coasts - 167 marine mammals stranded in North Carolina in 2014. We also experience the highest species diversity of marine mammals along the Atlantic coast. All but two species, known to occur in the North Atlantic, have stranded on North Carolina beaches. Marine mammal strandings are, thus, common events in our coastal environment.

A marine mammal stranding is also an important event that offers researchers a unique opportunity to gather data from these federally protected species. Those data are used to better understand the biology of marine mammals, to document our impacts on them, and ultimately to help ensure their conservation.