Call the WMMSN at (360) 966-8845 to report a dead or stranded marine mammal.

Marine Mammals

Whatcom County waters are located within the Salish Sea, and are home to many marine mammal species. Throughout the year we may encounter approximately 7 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoise) and 6 species of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions). Two local species are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act: killer whales and Steller sea lions.

On Our Shores

Seals and sea lions ‘haul out’ on land to rest and sun themselves. This is a normal and healthy behavior. Do not approach a seal or sea lion on land. This will disrupt the animal and cause it to return to the water before its body temperature has warmed. This could also cause injury to you or the animal, and expose you to deadly zoonotic diseases. In the summer harbor seals birth and nurse their pups on beaches. Human presence can disturb a mother causing her to abandon her pup. Stay at least 100 yards away. All marine mammals are federally protected. Harassment could result in a $100,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

When Are They Stranded?

Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoise) should never be on the shore. If a cetacean is on land or is in shallow water it is stranded. Seals and sea lions on the shore that appear sick or injured are stranded. Pups without a mother present can also be considered stranded. Dead marine mammals are federally protected and can pass infectious diseases to people and pets. It is illegal to approach a stranded marine mammal. Keep people and pets at least 300 feet away.

Did you know: About 70% of the oxygen we breathe comes from ocean dwelling phytoplankton.

Follow these simple steps to promote a healthy world ocean!

Plastic kills. Use reusable bags and bottles to reduce marine debris. Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s ‘Seafood Watch’ to guide purchases of sustainable seafood. Reduce your energy and water waste. Take shorter showers and switch to CFL light bulbs. All drains lead to the ocean. Purchase eco-friendly cleaners and reduce the amount used. Fix vehicle leaks. Wash vehicles at a car wash so the dirty water is treated rather than washed down unfiltered storm drains.