September 28, 2023

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Receives Recognition from NOAA

The Aquarium's Stranding Response Team acknowledged for its work regarding deceased whale in February.

Stranded whale on beach with Aquarium staff investigating

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center was recognized by NOAA Fisheries for their stranding response work earlier this year regarding a deceased whale stranding near the Lynnhaven Beach area.

The Virginia Aquarium received a report of a dead humpback whale floating in the waters of Virginia Beach, near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, in early February. The Aquarium’s Stranding Response team coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard to secure the whale before conducting an examination and necropsy.

In a letter, NOAA Assistant Administrator of Fisheries Janet Coit wrote, “On behalf of NOAA Fisheries, I want to thank you for the incredible work that you and your colleagues do in partnership with the agency to support our mandates under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act by responding to marine mammal strandings along our coasts. The high rate of large whales coming shore along the Mid-Atlantic since Dec. 1, 2022, has been incredibly demanding, and you all have risen to the challenge with inspiring professionalism.”

The Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Program is largely a volunteer-based group supported by the Virginia Aquarium Foundation through donations from the community and grant-making organizations.

“We applaud and greatly appreciate your dedication, passion, and commitment to these animals, which are important sentinels of our marine ecosystems,” wrote Coit.

All whales are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Action which makes touching these animals illegal. Please report stranded marine mammal and sea turtle sightings immediately to the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response hotline at (757) 385-7575 with the exact location.

The Stranding Response Team is one of several volunteer opportunities with the Virginia Aquarium. Positions are available for individuals aged 13+. If you are seeking a meaningful way to support conservation efforts addressing environmental issues, consider volunteering with the Virginia Aquarium. For more information, visit

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Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

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