What to do when marine animals are stranded on the beach

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OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Recently, a pygmy sperm whale stranded itself in Santa Rosa Beach.

Staff from Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge helping the pygmy sperm whale after it stranded itself ashore Santa Rosa Beach. (WJHG/WECP)

"Whenever we get a stranding call, the first thing that we do is we get all the information we can. You know, the location, the size of the animal, if they can give us a species that's ideal," said Mammal Stranding Coordinator for Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, Brittany Baldrica.

Baldrica also says marine life strandings aren't a frequent occurrence.

"We only get live animal strandings about once or twice a year," she said.

But when you do see a marine animal above the water's surface, there are certain precautions you should take.

"These animals strand because they're sick, injured, sometimes they can be entangled, so if you push the animal back, it's just gonna be harder for them to inherently survive," said Baldrica.

"What you do is you see it, you call the local authorities, and around here we advise people to call *FWC or #FWC on their cellphones," said Gulf World Marine Institute's Stranding Coordinator, Lauren Albrittain.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission then contacts the proper authorities to help the animal.

But Baldrica says there's one thing you can do to help, "There's an app called Dolphin and Whale 911 app."

The app allows anyone to report strandings and it provides a species guide so you can help identify the animal.

"Then you are also learning as you are helping," said Baldrica.

And one more thing you can do to help...

"Just remember to keep their home clean. We're just visitors to the Gulf of Mexico, but they all live there," said Albrittain.

If you would like to donate to Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge click here.

If you would like to donate to Gulf World Marine Institute click here.

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