Strandings consist of any marine mammal that is deceased, sick, or injured on the beach that is unable, or unwilling, to return to the water. They can be part of the normal process of life, but also are often associated with atypical events, such as El Niño, oil spills, red tide, ocean noise pollution, direct human interactions, and other traumatic events.
Beginning in 2011, students at Humboldt State University have been systematically walking every beach in Humboldt County. Led by graduate student Mary Beth Pacewicz, we are currently developing survey and sampling protocols for the entire north coast region, with hopes of expanding to the entire western United States. In addition, we routinely collaborate with the National Parks Service, California Fish and Wildlife, the Yurok Tribe, the North Coast Marine Mammal Center, and the COASST program to improve the documentation of dead marine mammals along our coastline.