Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Program
What is a Stranded Animal?
Stranded or Not Stranded?
- Generally, a stranded animal is any live marine animal that is out of its element, or outside of its survival envelope (Geraci and Lounsbury, 1993). Examples of stranded animals include a dolphin lying on the beach, a seal that is out of its range, or an icebound whale.
A stranded animal is generally a live marine animal
that is out of its element.
- Healthy seals, sea lions, walruses, and otters naturally haul out onto land at times to rest, mate, pup, or molt (Geraci and Lounsbury, 1993). This behavior is not considered stranding. A healthy pup, which may appear stranded because it is thin, feeble, and crying plaintively, may have a mother nearby (Geraci and Lounsbury, 1993).
Just because a sea lion pup is left on its own does not always mean
it is stranded. Pups are frequently left behind when their mothers
are foraging for food.
- A wild animal with an illness or injury generally will try to mask its symptoms for as long as possible to avoid predators.
Animals try to mask illnesses and injuries to avoid predators.
When Animals Strand
- In general, a marine animal may strand if it has a severe, debilitating illness or injury, or if it is too weak to hunt for food.
A marine mammal may strand if it is affected by a
severe, debilitating illness or injury, or if it is too weak to swim or hunt for food.
Use of the Term Stranded
- The term stranded is generally used to refer to marine mammals or sea turtles. SeaWorld also rescues a variety of ill and injured birds. Within this booklet, the term stranded refers to birds as well.
The term stranded is generally used to refer to marine mammals and
sea turtles, but SeaWorld also rescues ill and injured birds and so the
term stranded is used for them as well.
- The correct use of the term beached is limited to dead animals that have washed up on shore (Geraci and Lounsbury, 1993).
Intervention or Death
- When birds, marine mammals, or sea turtles strand, death is usually imminent if there is no intervention.
For many stranded animals their condition is a life or death situation.