Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium announces a NEW 24/7 hotline number for reporting distressed, injured or deceased sea turtles, manatees, dolphins or whales in the Sarasota/Manatee region. The new number, 888-345-2335, is effective immediately.

Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program responds to reports of distressed, injured or deceased sea turtles, manatees, dolphins or whales throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties. Members of the community are strongly advised to report to the hotline, and are advised to NOT attempt to assist any distressed or injured animal on their own. By switching to the new number, 888-345-2335, and new answering system, Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program will be able to better serve local marine life with even faster response time.

Tips for reducing human interactions with marine life:

  • If you see an injured, entangled, or beached dolphin, manatee, sea turtle, or whale, DO NOT attempt to assist the animal. Please call trained responders immediately at 888-345-2335 in Sarasota and Manatee counties. In the rest of Florida, call FWC at 888-404-3922. Hotlines are 24/7. Assisting animals could result in further injury to the animal or injury to yourself.
  • Abide by slow wake zones.
  • Use a spotter to watch for marine life.
  • Use polarized lenses to better detect shapes in the water.
  • Don’t feed or attempt to feed dolphins or sea turtles. Don’t feed, attempt to feed, or give water to manatees. Remember, it’s illegal!
  • Reel in your fishing line if dolphins appear.
  • Change locations if dolphins show interest in bait or catch.
  • Release catch quietly away from dolphins when and where it is possible to do so without violating any state or federal fishing regulations.
  • Check gear and terminal tackle to make sure it won’t break off easily and, if your line does break, be sure to collect anything left behind in mangroves or on docks.
  • Use circle and corrodible hooks and avoid braided fishing line.
  • Stay at least 50 yards away from marine life.
  • Stash your trash in a lidded container on your boat until you can get to shore and dispose of it safely in a place where it will not blow back into the water.
  • Sea turtles and hatchlings, sea turtle nests, and nest marking materials are all protected by law.
  • Sea turtle nesting season runs through October 31. Check local ordinances for lighting and other regulations.