Gil De Palma
Gil De Palma campaign leader

5 Ways to Help a Stranded Whale or Dolphin…most people make a mistake with #3

A whale or dolphin beached on land or very shallow water may be sick or injured and cannot swim away on its own—it needs your help. Without expert assistance, it will die.

CAUTION: It is a wild animal. Avoid putting yourself at risk of injury. Never ever attempt to hold its tail or fins.

It is not used to human touch and it can harm you by trashing its tail, shaking its head or hitting out with its beak. A toothed whale or dolphin may bite if it feels threatened. A beached animal may also carry contagious diseases that are harmful to humans.

Here are 5 ways to help a live stranded whale or dolphin:

1. CALL FOR HELP. The most important thing to do is seek out expert assistance to ensure that the stranded animal will be treated properly. Many countries have stranding response networks of specialists and veterinarians. Leave the animal where it is and try to provide care until help arrives. If it has stranded due to injury or ailment, you may exacerbate the damage by moving it.

If our Whale Call App is already available and installed on your phone, use the app’s SOS (distress call) button to alert other Whale Callers and report the stranding’s location and send for expert help.

2. MAKE SURE THAT NO WATER OR DEBRIS GETS IN THE BLOWHOLE. Whales and dolphins beach on their sides and you might find it necessary to help keep the stranded animal upright to keep its blowhole above water and free from obstruction so it can breathe. Approach and do it calmly to avoid unnecessary stress. Gently roll the animal onto its belly so that the blowhole is facing upwards.

3. DO NOT DRAG OR PUSH THE ANIMAL BACK INTO THE WATER. You might cause it serious injury. Without the right information, most people will make this mistake. If a whale or dolphin stranded because of sickness or any other reason, it needs help from specialists.

4. KEEP ITS SKIN WET WITH WATER. Whales and dolphins can overheat and die of dehydration fast so you can help keep it cool by pouring water over the skin, avoiding the blowhole. You may also lay towels or shirts soaked in cool water on the animal to keep it wet but do not cover the blowhole, tail and fins. If possible, make a shade for it using a beach umbrella or anything available.

5. MAKE THE ANIMAL MORE COMFORTABLE. Whales and dolphins struggle to carry their bodies on land. Aside from the threat of overheating, their body weight can crush their internal organs, leading to death. To help relieve pressure on a stranded animal’s fins and lungs, dig a small hole under each pectoral fin and under the chest region and fill it with water. This will make it easy for it to support the chest. Keep onlookers and pets away from the animal and do not allow them to touch it unnecessarily.

A beached whale or dolphin is always an emergency. They can die of dehydration, collapse under their own weight, or drown when water covers their blowhole. Without human intervention, they will not survive.

Stranding rescue is one of the important features of our Whale Call App.

It puts emergency action at the fingertips of Whale Callers to quickly report and bring expert human help to the scene of stranding before it’s too late.

Know what else you can do with our Whale Call App at:

Pledge to help us build the Whale Call App now. Share and invite your friends to support our community’s app project, too.

Your help will make a difference.

Volunteers attempt to keep body temperatures of beached pilot whales from rising
Photo by: Ilan Adler
Taken in Farewell Split, New Zealand



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