NOAA’s marine mammal stranding network was established in the early 1980’s under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In 1992, Congress passed amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act that formalized the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, and established NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Protected Resources as the agency in charge of coordinating the program, which oversees volunteers in all coastal states.

Volunteer stranding organizations and responders are permitted by NOAA to respond to cases of marine mammal strandings, which can include dead animals or live, distressed animals. Volunteers collect data that is uploaded to a national database, and conduct public outreach and education. The data collected by stranding networks helps NOAA monitor marine mammal health and population size, and contributes to the monitoring and recovery of endangered and threatened species.

Stranding organizations are eligible to apply for some federal grants, but are otherwise independently responsible for their own financing, through sources such as public donations, fundraising, or partnerships with other organizations.

For more information, see the NOAA Fisheries website.