Marine wildlife incidents

In NSW, marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, dugongs, seals and sea lions, and marine reptiles such as turtles and sea snakes are protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is responsible for the protection, conservation, and management of marine mammals and reptiles in NSW waters.

Marine mammals and reptiles may become injured or sick from natural causes such as disease, or from human-related causes such as fishing-gear entanglement and boat strike. These animals may be found stranded or hauled-out onshore, entrapped in shallow water, entangled, or floating offshore. When animals are found in poor condition or distress, they may require specialist assistance from NPWS or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

What should I do if I see an injured or sick marine mammal or reptile?

If you come across an injured or sick marine mammal or reptile, please report it as soon as possible to the EnviroLine – 131 555, or contact your local NPWS office.

Trained personnel may be called to monitor an animal's condition, assist in the rescue or release of an animal (e.g. disentanglement from fishing gear), provide veterinary advice or assistance (e.g. on euthanasia or rehabilitation), transport an animal to a rehabilitation facility, or manage an animal carcass (e.g. burial or post-mortem).

Do not attempt to care for an animal unless you are licenced to do so by NPWS and have appropriate training. Responding to wildlife emergencies is a dangerous activity and untrained responders may cause harm to themselves or the animal.

For marine mammals, you may also contact the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) on 02 9415 3333.

For reptiles and seabirds, you may also contact Australian Seabird Rescue (ASR) on 02 6686 2852.

Make sure you give the operator as much information about the situation as possible including a description of the animal, its condition, and the specific location.

How can I get involved in marine wildlife rescue?

ORRCA provides marine mammal rescue training workshops that qualify you to become a member of the ORRCA Rescue Team. For more information about ORRCA, please visit: ORRCA - Marine Mammal Rescue and Research.

ASR specialises in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of seabirds and turtles. For more information about ASR, please visit: Australian Seabird Rescue.

NPWS licences wildlife care groups to rescue and rehabilitate a wide range of native animals in NSW, some of which care for marine reptiles.

Read more information on becoming a wildlife rehabilitator:

More information

Page last updated: 20 September 2017