What should you do?
Denmark has an emergency management plan for marine mammals. Its task is to monitor seal and whale health and ensure that any sick or distressed marine mammals are quickly and humanely destroyed. If you find or see a sick or exhausted seal or whale, please do not touch it. Contact the nearest unit of Naturstyrelsen (the Danish Nature Agency) or call the Fisheries and Maritime Museum on +45 76 12 20 00.
Abandoned seal pups or ”howlers”
The common seals along Denmark’s coasts give birth to their young in June and July. During this period young seal pups can sometimes be found on the beach. Please do not touch them. It is not unusual for a mother to leave her young for a short time in search of food. Similarly, mother and young can become separated, for example if they are disturbed. If a young seal pup is crying, this does not always mean that the mother has disappeared. If the seal is left alone, mother and pup will have the chance to find each other again. If a seal pup remains in the same place on the beach for more than twenty-four hours, it may have been abandoned. In these circumstances, please contact the local wildlife office or the Fisheries and Maritime Museum. Read more about abandoned seal pups at the Danish Nature Agency website.
What is the emergency management plan?
Since 1991, information about the location of marine mammals has been collected and shared in a cooperation between the Danish Nature Agency, the Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg, the Zoological Museum branch of the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, and the Veterinary Institute of the DTU (Technical University of Denmark).
The emergency management plan was revised in 2012 by a working group of representatives from the Danish Nature Agency, the DTU Veterinary Institute, the Fisheries and Maritime Museum, the Zoological Museum/Natural History Museum, and Aarhus University’s Department of Biological Sciences.
Some stranded marine mammals are taken into the collection of the DTU Veterinary Institute for analysis. Tissue samples are taken for use in research and monitoring projects. Selected skeletons from stranded mammals are conserved by the Fisheries and Maritime Museum and the Zoological Museum/ Natural History Museum. These skeletons enter the two museums’ collections and contribute to research and to educating the general public.
All records of collected and registered marine mammals are entered in a database managed by the Fisheries and Maritime Museum and the Zoological Museum/Natural History Museum. The records are published annually in a report on marine mammal emergency management.
You can read the most recent report from 2014 here.
Records cover only marine mammals found dead or humanely destroyed. An inventory of marine mammals stranded in 2014 can be found at the back of the report in an appendix outlining the procedure for reporting stranded mammals.
If you find a sick seal
Do not touch it
Contact the nearest local Danish Nature Agency office, or the Fisheries and Maritime Museum on 76 12 20 00.
If you have more general questions about marine mammals, you are welcome to contact Charlotte, the Fisheries and Maritime Museum’s natural history curator.
In the months of June and July, young seal pups can sometimes be found on Denmark’s beaches. Please do not touch them. It is not unusual for a mother to leave her young for a short time in search of food. If the seal is left alone, mother and pup will have the chance to find each other again.