Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael
Senior Marine Scientist II
Associate Professor of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama.
Employing natural abundance stable isotopes to understand biological and physiological responses to environmental perturbations, assessing nutritional importance of food sources, discerning physiological state of organisms, and determining time scales of ecosystem-level change.
The Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network (ALMMSN) is a cooperative regional stranding network partner, which works with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to respond to dolphin and whale strandings in Alabama. ALMMSN also works closely with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to respond to manatee strandings in Alabama and Mississippi as well as provide aid to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the Florida panhandle when needed. Our network is a nonprofit organization currently funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to establish and enhance a regional stranding collaboration among the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other local regional partners.
Report Marine Mammal Strandings
For dolphin and whale strandings (live or carcasses) call 1-877- WHALE-HELP (877-942-5343)
Cetacean and Manatee FAQs
What should I do if I encounter a live marine mammal in the wild?
If you spot a live marine mammal in the wild, you should remain a safe and legal distance from the animal (at least 50 yards away from dolphins & manatees and 100 yards away from whales). Time spent observing marine mammals should be kept brief to minimize stress to the animals. If you are approached by an animal, shift your engine to neutral and allow the animal to pass. NEVER attempt to feed, water, pet or interact with a wild marine mammal.
What should I do if I encounter a live marine mammal stranded on the beach?
If you spot a live stranded marine mammal, there are several guidelines that you should follow.
What should I do if I encounter a dead marine mammal?
If you spot a dead marine mammal in the wild, call the Stranding Hotline at 1-877-WHALE-HELP to report the carcass to your local stranding network.
Why do marine mammals strand?
It is usually difficult to find a definitive reason why animals strand, but the most common identified causes of strandings include:
How many strandings does ALMMSN respond to annually?
Stranding numbers can vary greatly by year and ALMMSN typically responds to 20-40 cetacean and 1-6 manatee strandings each year.
What species strand most frequently?
In Alabama, bottlenose dolphins strand more frequently than any other species. Occasional manatees, offshore dolphins and small whales also strand in AL waters.
What is a UME?
A UME is an Unusual Mortality Event, and is defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act as, “a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response.” For more information about marine mammal UMEs, click here. To learn more about the Cetacean UME in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (2010-2015), click here.
Are the most recent dolphin deaths a direct result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill?
The current investigation of stranded cetaceans following the DWHOS is ongoing. For the most up to date information and publications related to the Cetacean UME in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (2010-2015), click here.
Why study stranded marine mammals?
We obtain valuable information from live and dead stranded marine mammals. Marine mammals are indicator species and help to shed light on the health of the ecosystems in which they live. Through sample collection and analysis, we can learn about an array of topics including population dynamics, individual and group health, possible ecosystem contaminations, prey and predator relationships, physiology, and countless other areas of research. Because Alabama’s marine mammal populations are historically understudied, it is critical for us to gather as much information about the populations as possible.
Do manatees use our local waterways?
Yes! Manatees migrate to Alabama and the norther Gulf of Mexico coast during the spring and summer months to feed, mate and give birth to young. For more information about manatees in Alabama waters, please visit out sister network, Manatee Sighting Network at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
Opened in 2015, the Marine Mammal Research Center (MMRC) is a state-of-the-art necropsy facility and clean laboratory that houses ALMMSN. The MMRC Necropsy Laboratory features walk-in cold storage, specialized ventilation, heavy-duty lifting mechanisms and custom-built necropsy tables.
ALMMSN accepts 1-2 interns during peak stranding season every spring (February-May). If you are interested in becoming an intern, please send a copy of your resume/CV, cover letter, and a list of 3 references to ALMMSN@disl.org.
Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network