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The stranding network

Fifteen groups throughout the NE help animals survive when injured

The August turtle release by New England Aquarium.
For years, the Cape Cod Stranding Network (CCSN) has cared for seals, turtles, dolphins, and whales rescued from predators, diseases, and the elements and referred them for recovery services at the New England Aquarium. Far more than just an aquarium, the New England Aquarium has an active research program to find answers to overfishing and by-catch issues, strandings, and disease in aquatic species. Moreover, since the inception of the Rescue and Rehabilitation Program in 1968, the New England Aquarium has responded to over 4,000 strandings of marine mammals and sea turtles. Most recently, they released 14 sea turtles that had been cold stunned and returned back to health before release. Although this year was nothing like 1999 when 277 sea turtles were subjected to mass strandings, it is still nevertheless a rewarding achievement to save the lives of these magnificant creatures.

This is an example of just one partnership functioning throughout the Northeast. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center handles the New Jersey Coast, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research covers New York harbor waters, Mystic Aquarium in Mystic CT handles Long Island Sound to Rhode Island, the CCSN based on Buzzards Bay responds to calls on Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod, New England Aquarium manages Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and three networks patrol Maine. NOAA Fisheries with its National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) has the ultimate resposibility under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to provide stranding response, but they can't do it alone.

Boaters are especially important in helping the networks succeed in rescuing the distressed animals. If a stranded or injured animal is sighted, boaters are warned to keep their distance but call for immediate assistance. Remember that injured animals may carry infections that could be very dangerous and their fear provoke them to attack when approached. It is best to stand by the animal until the rescue team arrives on the scene, and to keep onlookers at a distance. For more instructions on what to do if you see a stranded animal, please visit the NEA site.

Perhaps you'll have the opportunity to visit one of the aquariums and hear the stories of survival first hand. There is nothing more touching to a child or a caring boater than to hear of the bravery of the animals and their rescuers and see the results first hand. It is one great way to foster a new generation of stewards for our fragile oceans. You can even adopt one of the sea turtles and track their progress as they return to their natural habitats. Visit

Who should you call? If you see a stranded or injured animal, please try to remain calm and leave your name and a phone number where you can be reached. Stand by the animal and keep onlookers at a safe distance. Remember that an injured or sick animal's first instinct will be to protect itself, and a bite could be very harmful.
US National Marine Fisheries Stranding and Entanglement Unit:
973-281-9351 or report it to the USCG on VHF channel 16
NJ Marine Mammal Stranding Center: 609-266-0538
NY Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research: 631-369-9829
LIS-NY/CT/RI Mystic Aquarium: 860-572-5955 x107
MA-NH New England Aquarium's 24-hour Marine Animal Rescue Hotline: 617-973-5247
MA Cape Cod Stranding Network: 508-743-9548
ME Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline: 800-532-9551

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