Tips for starting a network

A functioning stranding network consists of the following:

  • Permissions and authorizations from authorities
  • Trained personnel including volunteers
  • Communication capability
  • Equipment (safety, response, etc.)
  • Funding and sustainability plan
  • Organizational structure


  1. Start small.  Establish a network in a small area of coastline, replicate the model and expand to other areas.
  2. Convene a group of individuals or organizations interested in responding to stranding events. Building a coalition or community support is important.
  3. Ensure that leaders are trained personnel or are familiar with response activities (This could be veterinary professionals, researchers from environmental institutions, academia, or government).
  4. Coordinate closely with the local government to ensure that appropriate permissions are sought.
  5. Conduct educational and training workshops to create awareness and to recruit volunteers (e.g., fishermen, school, and college students, public).
  6. Creating awareness and educating the public about marine mammals is critical for the longevity of networks. Knowing why a response network is important will result in volunteer interest, resource investments, and sustainability.
  7. Always seek expert help for large whales and mass strandings.
  8. Be aware of your limitations and work within available resources, and do not take unnecessary risks. Human safety is paramount in any response activity.

Woods Hole Open Access Server

This link takes you to the Marine Mammal Stranding Response repository on the Woods Hole Open Access Server (WHOAS). You will need to register on that site to download content and training materials that are housed there. This will be a one-time registration process.

Continue to the Woods Hole Open Access Server.