If you find dead marine life on our beaches please:

  • Call the Marine Strandings Network on 0345 201 2626 and report it; this is a 24 hour hotline;  
  • Don't assume it has already been reported (unless it has a visible tag already on it; however, re-reporting can be useful as animals often move with tides/currents and this information can be helpful); 
  • Do not touch or try to move the animal; animal carcasses can carry diseases and pose a risk of infection/illness (particularly to pregnant women).

Please note:

  • the location;
  • the state of the tide;
  • what the animal is, if you know;
  • any injuries you can see without getting close.

What can Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust do?

We believe that death is a very important part of the cycle of life and dead marine mammals provide food for a host of other species; our Dead Marine Mammals policy explains what we mean and what we are able to do if a dead marine mammal washes up on one of our beaches.

About the Marine Strandings Network

Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT) volunteers have been collecting data on marine strandings for many years now and CWT have over 5500 records on their strandings database; the earliest dating back to 1308!

However, records from Scilly are sadly lacking, but hopefully we will be able to get Scilly back on the map and a better understanding of our marine wildlife, following some intensive training and partnership working with CWT. 

Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s (CWT) Marine Strandings Network consists of over 100 volunteers across Cornwall and following a weekend at the end of April 2018 there are now thirteen fully trained volunteers on Scilly as well.

Why is looking at dead things important?

The Marine Strandings Network (MSN) volunteers' main activity is recording and photographing (not removing) all stranded (dead) Dolphins, Whales and Porpoises (collectively known as Cetaceans) as well as Seals, Basking sharks and Turtles but they also collect data on all stranded marine life in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; everything from Guillemots and Zulu fish to Violet sea snails and Buoy barnacles.

It might sound pretty gory but the recording of dead marine life is really important in helping to monitor trends and threats to survival; providing information vital in helping us to conserve wildlife and which cannot be learnt from live animals.

The new MSN Scilly Volunteers have received training to identify and record accurately to ensure that information submitted to the MSN Data Officer is of the correct standard and quality and means that all Scilly recordings can be put to good use.

What happens when you call the Marine Strandings Network hotline?

When a member of the public finds a dead marine animal (it doesn’t have to be a mammal or cetacean) they are advised to phone the Marine Strandings Network Hotline on 0345 201 2626. This hotline is staffed by a team of experienced volunteers who will ask questions to glean more information; if any photographs have been taken and can be submitted this is also really helpful.

The Hotline Co-ordinator will then contact one of the locally trained volunteers and ask them to pop out and take a look.

Armed with measuring tapes, cameras and gloves (possibly even a peg depending on the state of decomposition of the reported animal!) Marine Strandings Network (MSN) volunteers will then head out to conduct a detailed survey of the dead animal; taking measurements and photographs and carrying out a detailed observation of the entire animal looking for clues regarding how and why it died.

All recorded animals are tagged to prevent double counting/recording. Currently these tags are plastic but trials are in progress regarding a biodegradable alternative; but the alternative needs to be robust enough to withstand the elements and remain in place until the animal has decomposed.

All of the information collected is then sent into the Strandings Data Officer, added to the database and analysed.  Information can provide evidence of trends or areas of concern as well as adding to robust scientific data which can be used in other areas.