Reporting Stranded, Entangled, or Injured Sea Turtles

Updated 12/14/2015

A stranded sea turtle is defined as any ocean turtle found dead, injured, sick, tumored, or otherwise abnormal and sometimes even normal in appearance and out of the water, usually along the shoreline. The turtle may also be in very shallow water close to shore.

To report a stranded sea turtle and facilitate a response, please call the number listed below:

Island Hours Contact Contact Number
(Hilo Area/East Coast of Island)
  UH Hilo Marine Option Program in partnership with NMFS 286-4359
(Honokohau North to Hawi)
  Hawaii Preparatory Academy in partnership with NMFS 881-4200
(Honokohau South to Hookena)
  NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in partnership with NMFS 327-6226
Kauai   State of Hawaii DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) Kauai 645-0532
Lanai   State of Hawaii DLNR-DOCARE Lanai 565-7916
(Kihei Area - Maalaea to Makena)
  Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute 286-2549
(All Other Areas)
  Maui Community College - Marine Option Program in partnership with NMFS 286-2899
Molokai   State of Hawaii DLNR-DOCARE Molokai 553-5190
Oahu Monday-Friday, 7:30am-4pm NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service - PIFSC Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program (808) 725-5730
Weekends, Holidays, and after-hours UH Manoa Marine Option Program contractors of NMFS 286-4377

Important points to keep in mind:

  • Sea turtles are listed and protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and wildlife laws of the State of Hawaii. All sea turtles, both dead and alive, are legally protected.
  • These instructions apply exclusively to sea turtles. Please do not call 911 or any other private or government organizations.
  • On weekends, Federal and State holidays, and after hours, please use the pager number provided above.
  • Due to the considerable travel distances that may be involved, and the possibility of other turtle strandings occurring at the same time, a delay in response of three hours or more may occur. Please be patient. There is no harm whatsoever for a sea turtle to be out of the water for many hours, provided it is not in direct hot sunlight. In fact, sea turtles strand because they want to and need to be out of the ocean.
  • Callers should be prepared to tell exactly where the turtle is located, whether it appears to be dead or alive, and the size of the animal (estimated weight or length of shell - can one person lift it, or will two or more persons be needed?).
  • Due to safety considerations, personnel may not travel at night to isolated unfamiliar areas.
  • If the turtle returns to the water before someone arrives, this is not necessarily bad. Some turtles, even ones with tumors, want to rest ashore for a period of time and they may do this regularly (called basking).
  • The size and degree of decomposition of a dead stranded turtle could make it impossible or inappropriate to load and transport the turtle to the laboratory for scientific research. For such cases, the carcass will be marked as having been examined and disposal can occur by whatever sources/methods appropriate (C&C Disposal, etc.).
  • DLNR-DOCARE Officers do not normally pick up stranded turtles, unless there is a law enforcement violation.

For more information, please call the PIFSC Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program: (808) 725-5730