Coastal Naturalist Program Offers Marine Mammal Stranding Training

September 20, 2017

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – Have you ever hugged a whale?  Someday you might have a chance to hold one to help save it, if you attend the Marine Mammal Stranding Response training at the UTRGV School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences located in Isla Blanca Park, South Padre Island, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, October 7, 2017.

The program is designed to teach participants how to respond to live dolphin and whale strandings on South Padre Island. Heidi Whitehead, state coordinator of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, will teach handling procedures complying with the Marine Mammal Protection Act and give a lecture on species that strand on Texas beaches and in our bays. Dr. Tom deMaar, senior veterinarian with the Gladys Porter Zoo, will talk about veterinary procedures, zoonotics and quality of life for the animals and responders.

Participants will gain knowledge on handling whales and dolphins and how to transport them and care for them during rehabilitation. The cost of the class is $15. Pre-registration is required, and once the class is filled with 30 participants, registration will close.  Register online at

This training is part of the Texas Coastal Naturalist program, which is sponsored by the Rio Grande Valley Chapter Texas Master Naturalists, the Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M University, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and the Gladys Porter Zoo. 

This class is part of the Texas Coastal Naturalist training curriculum, which also includes courses that prepare volunteers in the Laguna Madre area to be first responders to coastal natural emergencies, such as cold-stunned sea turtle events, marine mammal strandings, red tides and oil-tainted wildlife.  The Coastal Naturalist program also includes courses related to the marine environment in its curriculum.  Current Coastal Naturalists are also invited to take the class. Please like our “Texas Coastal Naturalist” page on Facebook.


The Texas Sea Grant College Program is a partnership of university, government and industry focusing on marine research, education and outreach. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. Texas Sea Grant Extension is a joint outreach program of Texas Sea Grant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Commissioners Courts in participating counties.