ANNAPOLIS (June 29, 2011) The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking boaters and beach goers to keep their eyes open for sea turtles and marine mammals while enjoying the outdoors this summer.
If you see an animal that is dead, visibly injured, entangled or appears to be in need of help, call the hotline immediately, said Jamie Testa coordinator of DNRs Sea Turtle & Marine Mammal Stranding Program. If you would like to report a healthy animal or group of animals you may also call the hotline.
This time of year, residents on the water are likely to see bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles and maybe even a manatee. Most animals seen in Maryland waters are free swimming, naturally feeding and healthy. Spectators can watch and enjoy the animals, but at a distance, say DNR officials.
According to the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, humans should stay at least 150 feet away from the animals to keep from disturbing their normal activity. Boaters should turn off their engines if a sea turtle or dolphin swims near the boat.
Citizens can report sightings or stranded sea turtles or marine mammals by calling the 1-800-628-9944. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. DNR says the public should not touch the remains of dead sea turtles or mammals. Animals can transfer diseases to humans and their pets.
The Sea Turtle & Marine Mammal Stranding Program has been responding to stranded marine animals for the past 20 years. DNR works with the Marine Animal Rescue Program at The National Aquarium as well as numerous other organizations throughout the State to aid in the recovery of, and response to, stranded marine animals.