Stranding & Salvage

Stranding & Salvage

The Sea Turtle Preservation Society supports the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network (STSSN) which was formally established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service in the southeastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico in 1980. Members of the STSSN work together to inform the causes of sea turtle strandings by collecting data, documenting wounds and abnormalities, transporting sick and injured sea turtles to permitted rehabilitation facilities, provision of sea turtle samples and parts for conservation-related research, and helping to educate the public about sea turtle conservation.


A stranding occurs when sea turtles are found swimming or floating on or near shore due to a sickness, injury, or death. Salvage activities refer to sea turtles that are deceased and requested by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for further study. After coordination through our emergency hotline, a stranding team member responds to the hotline monitor’s rescue notification. A live sea turtle is evaluated by a stranding permit listed volunteer on the spot and transported to a specific, FWC directed, rehabilitation facility. Should the turtle be deceased, then the volunteer will photograph, measure, assess for possible causes of death, paint and mark with red yarn on a flipper, or if requested by FWC, conduct a salvage, and then finish the stranding event by completing required online reports.


The focal point for emergency response is our STPS emergency hotline number, (321) 206-0646. When a sea turtle becomes sick, injured, stranded, or deceased, individuals from the general public may notice it on one of our beaches and contact the STPS hotline to leave a voicemail. FWC even calls the STPS hotline for Brevard County marine turtle emergency responses. The hotline monitor receives the voicemail, then calls the reporting individual back for more details and confirmation. The monitor then activates the STPS Emergency Response effort by sending a mobile phone notification request for immediate support to the stranding and salvage permit listed volunteer team.


The Stranding Team is on call seven days a week, and 365 days a year to rescue, collect data, or salvage the endangered and threatened sea turtles in Brevard County. There are over 300 miles of shoreline in Brevard County when the shores of the Indian River, Banana River, and Mosquito Lagoons are included. All volunteers working with sea turtles are required to be trained by FWC, and named on a permit issued by the federal and/or state governments.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issues permits for activities involving marine turtles in Florida under authority granted through an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The marine turtle permits (MTPs) are run by a named, qualified person, (referred to as the “permit holder” and listed as the “permittee”) and can have up to 24 authorized personnel named on the permit to assist with the activities. The permit identifies specific activities that can be conducted by the individuals on the permit. Volunteers identified on the permit must complete workshops at least once every two years held by a Stranding Coordinator from FWC, STPS transport training, and the permit holder must also attend additional training/meeting sessions. All MTPs expire annually and the permit holder is responsible for requesting a new permit from FWC. Another rewarding function of the STPS Stranding Team is its use, when asked by FWC, to conduct sea turtle releases at specified times and locations. 


A program, Sea Turtle Emergency Rescue Program (STERP), was designed for the specific problem of post-hatchlings washed back by fall storms and is permitted under the Stranding Marine Turtle Permit.