What to do if you find a stranded porpoise?

Check if the animal is alive

Each year approximately 700 porpoises become stranded on Dutch shores. Local authorities are required to report each case and take charge of the carcase. The field work is typically carried out by enthusiastic volunteers who are often affiliated with Sea Mammal First Aid groups, sanctuaries, and animal welfare charities or beachcombers.

What happens when a stranding is reported?
The volunteer-run Dutch Strandings Network responds to reports of stranded porpoises and takes the appropriate next steps: If the stranded animal is alive, SOS dolfijn, a sea mammal rescue centre, take over the case. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is informed when a fresh (recently deceased) carcase is reported.

When is necropsy carried out?
The volunteers of the Strandings Network contact the stranding investigation team at the department of pathology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to discuss whether or not a carcase is suitable for further investigation: This typically depends on the state of decomposition and can generally be reliably judged based on photos.

Animals submitted to the University for necropsy are tagged with the date and the location at which they were found allowing researchers to link their findings to a time and place.

What should you do if you find a stranded porpoise?
If you come across a stranded porpoise you should inform the Strandings Network straight away; the local representative will help to determine the urgency of the situation, informing us here at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University if the carcase is fresh. Contact details are available at www.zeezoogdieren.org.

If you find a living porpoise, whale or dolphin then you should contact SOS dolfijn on the emergency number: +31 (0)6 65 09 85 76. Speaking clearly, repeat your name and a contact number twice on the voicemail and you will called back immediately.

For more information visit www.walvisstrandingen.nl or www.waarneming.nl