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Each year, hundreds of whales and dolphins strand on our shores. Whilst some are sick or injured, others are healthy and just need a helping hand back out to sea.

New Zealand has the highest stranding rate in the world but we also have the highest rescue success rate. A cornerstone of our work is whale and dolphin rescue.

Over the years we’ve equipped everyday New Zealanders with the basic skills needed to rescue stranded dolphins and whales. Through this network thousands of animals have been saved.

Find out how you can become a Marine Mammal Medic today or click here for further information about whale and dolphins strandings.

Report a Marine Mammal Stranding

Call one of the following numbers immediately.

If you can, before phoning in, make a thorough evaluation first. The more information you give us the better informed our decisions and response will be. Our stranding hotline is answered 24 hours a day and will give you specific advice on how to deal with a stranding.

Stay by the phone if possible so that you can be contacted again if more information is required. You will be asked to stay by the phone or return to the whale to begin basic first aid

Project Jonah 24 Hour Stranding Hotline

0800 4 WHALE
(0800 4 94253)

DOC Stranding Hotline

0800 DOC HOT
(0800 362 468)

If all else fails dial 111 and inform the Police.

Key information to note & give during the phone call

It helps to have some key information ready first before you phone though.

  • Your Name & contact phone number

    Give your name and your contact phone number. Stay by the phone if possible so that you can be contacted again if more information is required.

  • Location of stranding

    Include directions to the site and any points of reference.

  • Time

    The approximate time you discovered the stranding

  • No. of animals

    How many have stranded? Are they all on the beach, or are there whales grounded in the water or milling out at sea?

  • Species

    If you’re not sure then just describe the animals. How big are they? What colour are they? Do they have any markings or colour patterns – for example a gray saddle patch on their back? How big is their dorsal fin? Do they have one?

  • Dead or Alive

    What sort of condition are they in? Are they alive or are they dead? Do they have any obvious injuries?

  • Tides

    Is the tide high or low? Is it incoming or outgoing?

  • Sea & weather conditions

    Is the sea calm or rough? Are there breakers inshore, white caps at sea?

  • Access problems

    Is the beach easily accessible? Will DOC or Project Jonah be able to get equipment down to the scene? Is the area only accessible by boat?

  • Are there people or dogs on the scene?

Do’s & Don’ts at a stranding


  • Keep the animal cool by pouring water gently over its body, focusing on the fins and tail flukes
  • Cover the animal with towels or sheets (even seaweed) – keep these wet
  • Move any animals lying on their sides into an upright position.  Dig a shallow impression alongside the animal and roll them gently upright into the indentation
  • Dig trenches under the flippers to relieve cramping
  • Keep the stranding site as quiet as possible
  • Keep noisy children and barking dogs away


  • Cover or pour water down the blowhole
  • Cover the animal’s eyes
  • Step on, near or over the tail
  • Stand directly in front of the animal’s head
  • Pull the animal by its tail
  • Use the fins as levers
  • Shout or make loud noises
  • Drag or roll the animal to water

Take positive action today with a donation to Project Jonah.