Human Impact

Human Impact

Help Make the Water Safe for Marine Animals

Stranded animals have been admitted to the National Aquarium Animal Rescue Program for a variety of reasons. Many patients are sick or injured as a result of human activities, like boat strikes, fishing gear entanglement, plastic ingestion, and water pollution. Others have been affected by natural causes such as weather, water temperature, malnourishment, and exhaustion.

Stranding is frequently an animal's last effort at survival, but we can help decrease the number of animals that strand from human-related causes.

How You Can Help Protect Marine Animals

Be responsible with your litter: recycle and dispose of trash properly, including fishing line, cigarette butts, six-pack rings, plastic debris, and metal cans.

Participate in beach, stream, and roadside cleanups, even if it’s just one day a year. Check out our Conservation Events to see how you can get involved in cleanup and restoration events around the Chesapeake Bay region.

Keep a proper lookout when boating; sea turtles like to bask in the sun at the surface of the water, and can be slow to get out of the way of an approaching vessel, putting them at risk of boat strike injuries.

Never release balloons. Balloons can fall into bodies of water, where animals confuse them for food or become entangled in them. 

Dispose of oil and other hazardous materials properly, and never pour anything down storm drains. These connect directly to the waterways that lead to the ocean.

Use fertilizer for your lawn and garden sparingly, as these pollutants wash into waterways and out to sea.

Keep your distance when you come into contact with a marine animal. All marine mammals and sea turtles are federally protected, and humans should remain 100 yards away from the animals. If an animal appears sick or injured, notify the appropriate authorities.

Never feed wild animals. Human-fed marine animals change their normal wild behavior and run a greater risk of being injured by boats, becoming entangled in fishing gear, or ingesting dangerous items.

If you come across a stranded marine animal in Maryland that may be in need of medical attention, please call the National Aquarium's Stranding Hotline at 410-373-0083, or the Maryland Natural Resources Police at 1-800-628-9944.

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National Aquarium Animal Rescue depends on the generosity of volunteers to operate, but medical equipment, medications, and food for these animals is expensive. Your gift makes it possible to continue this important work.

Donate to Animal Rescue

Seals on Land

National Aquarium - Seals on Land

Learn About Visiting Seals

Spot a seal on the beach? Seals are seasonal visitors to Maryland during the winter months. Learn how to determine if a seal is stranded or just resting on land.