Marine Mammal Stranding Network

All marine mammals are protected by federal law, even after death, and it is important to collect all scientific information from these animals better to understand the health of marine mammal populations. The Department of Ornithology & Mammalogy is a participant in the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, a federal research program run by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Our field biologists respond to calls reporting dead marine mammals, and when carcasses are located, they make examinations, collect information, and take samples to determine identifications and cause of death. If marine mammals, whether  sick, injured, or dead, are encountered in the wild, please try to collect the following information: 

1) Get a description of the animal. Estimate the size, color, and other distinguishing features. Is it a seal, sea lion, dolphin, whale or otter? Is it injured, decomposed, or missing parts?
2) Get a locale as specific as possible. Get the name of the beach, the distance from the nearest parking lot, road or trail.
3) Record the date and time you last saw the animal. Also, please leave your name and phone number in case you need to be contacted to provide further information.
4) Please note any other information that may be valuable in finding the animal, or that may have contributed to the injury or death of the animal.

Please remember: It is illegal to approach or handle a sick or injured marine mammal, and it is illegal to collect any parts of dead marine mammals.

CSL by Sue Pemberton

California Sea Lion, Zalophus californianus Sea Otter, Enhydra lutris

 Killer Whale, Orcinus orca 


Dead Marine Mammals

For dead marine mammals, please call the department of Ornithology and Mammalogy at the California Academy of Sciences at 415-379-5381. Alternatively, you can send an email (marinemammals at to the department.

Sick or Injured Marine Mammals

For sick or injured marine mammals, please contact The Marine Mammal Center at 415-289-SEAL or via their website.


  • How do I take care of a baby bird?

    If it appears that the baby bird fell out of a nest, then simply locate the nest nearby and carefully place the bird back in the nest. Despite persistent fallacies, the parents cannot smell your odor on the baby bird, and will usually accept the young back into the nest. Young birds often fall from nests after wind storms, when the nesting sites are disturbed by construction, predators, or children, or when an older sibling kicks them out of the nest. If you cannot locate a nest, keep the bird in a suitable warm container, and contact your local SPCA or a certified wildlife care facility immediately (see contact list below).

    Wildcare (San Rafael)

    Peninsula Humane Society (San Mateo)

    Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory

  • I would like to visit the Ornithology & Mammalogy Collections. Who should I contact?
  • How do you know if an animal is endangered?
  • I found a dead sea lion and I called The Marine Mammal Center. They said to call you guys. How do I report it?

    If it is dead, call us at 415-379-5381 and we’ll try to salvage it for research. If it is still alive, please call the Marine Mammal Center at 415-289-SEAL (415-289-7325) – they will retrieve it and take care of it.  We’ll need to know where and when you found the sea lion (or any other stranded marine mammal).

    Marine Mammal Stranding Network

  • How do I remove a nuisance animal from my yard?

    In urban and suburban areas, some animals have become habituated to humans because we provide food and housing for them. If these animals become a nuisance, there are several steps you can take to make them feel unwelcome, and lessen the likelihood that they’ll stick around:

    Feed all pets indoors. These animals often raid your pet’s food bowls at night and learn that your home is an easy meal for them.

    Keep all trash cans upright and with tight-fitting (or locking) lids. These are crafty animals that have learned to associate trash cans with food, and frequently raid your trash area for food. Keeping your trash cans critter proof will keep your place tidy and keep unwanted animals away.

    Cover all basements, decks, and crawlspaces. Use of plywood, bricks, or wire mesh should be used to block any entries into basements, attics, crawlspaces, or under foundations where these animals may set up home and raise a family.

    If skunks, opossums, or raccoons become a persistent problem, call your local Animal Control officers.

  • I found an injured bird. What should I do?

    If a bird hit a window and appears stunned but otherwise uninjured, it is important to place the bird into a warm, darkened box or similar container, and release the bird when it comes back to its senses. Leaving a bird in such a condition outside makes it easy prey for cats, dogs, or other predators. If the animal appears to have an injury, or it you find an animal injured in any other way, contact your local SPCA or a certified wildlife care facility immediately (see contact list below).

    Wildcare (San Rafael)

    Peninsula Humane Society (San Mateo)

    Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory

  • I searched your database but didn't find the type specimen I was looking for. Can you suggest another database to search?

    Yes.  Try looking in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

  • Can I get a copy of the rain forest bird list?
  • Why does that bird always sing?

    “Those Damned Birds Keep Singing, And It’s Driving Me Nuts!” (An actual quote from a homeowner about birds singing in his yard.) Some birds, like the Northern Mockingbird, may sing night and day during the breeding season, and other birds, like crows and jays, may raise a ruckus from time to time. However, all native birds are protected by law, and there’s little you or any private or government agency can do about it. For most people, the songs of birds, even if too loud at times, are joyous reminders of the diversity of nature in their community.

  • Can I collect specimens?

    Native birds and mammals living within the State of California are protected either by state, federal, or international laws, even when they are dead. It is illegal for private citizens to own most native birds or mammals, either in whole or in part (including skulls, bones, antlers, and even feathers), except under terms of special permits or by exemptions under hunting laws and licenses. Therefore, collecting most bird or mammal specimens, either alive or dead, is illegal without proper permits and licenses. Fines and penalties for violating such regulations can amount to thousands of dollars, and even the possibility of jail time, depending on the severity of the infraction. The California Department of Fish & Game issues permits to educational institutions for use of bird or mammal material in educational programs.