NOAA Fisheries Feature




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Strandings occur when marine mammals or sea turtles swim or float into shore and become "beached" or stuck in shallow water. In 1999 alone, more than 3,000 marine mammals stranded on U.S. shores. In most stranding cases, the cause of the stranding is unknown, but some identified causes have included disease, parasite infestation, harmful algal blooms, injuries due to ship strikes or fishery entanglements, pollution exposure, trauma, and starvation. While the majority of stranded animals are found dead, some animals strand alive and in a limited number of cases it is possible to transport these individuals to regional rehabilitation centers for care. In rare cases, successfully rehabilitated animals are returned to the wild.

Mass strandings of dolphins. Ron Hardy, Gulfworld.

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