International Fund for Animal Welfare



Thank you so very much for your interest in our organization and what we do. We appreciate you wanting to get involved with our team! 


IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Mission:

  • Promote the conservation of marine mammal species and their habitat by:
    • Improving rapid response and humane care to stranded marine mammals,
    • Advancing stranding science and
    • Increasing public awareness through education.
  • We approach each stranding from a scientific perspective, trying to gain as much information as possible from each event in order to continually improve the care we provide to these animals.

What is a stranding?


A marine mammal that is….

  • Dead and on a beach.
  • Dead and floating.
  • Alive, onshore, and unable to return to the water on its own.
  • Alive, onshore, and able to return to the water but is in need of medical attention.
  • Out of habitat.


We respond to an average of 251 live and dead marine mammals per year. However, every year our average grows greater and greater.



What we do:

  • Respond to live and dead stranded marine mammals (seals, dolphins, porpoises and whales) in our coverage area, authorized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through a stranding agreement. This includes all of Cape Cod and south to the Rhode Island boarder.
    • 750 miles of coastline!!



Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Assist in data collection of deceased marine mammals via external exams or necropsies (animal autopsies)
  • Monitoring live seals resting on the beach and providing education to the public about their behavior.
  • Assist with the capture and collection of sick/injured/entangled seals that are in need of medical attention/rehabilitation.
  • Assist with the transport of seals to a rehabilitation facility.
  • Assist with providing supportive care to live stranded dolphins in the field prior to staff arrival.
  • Assist MMRR staff with extraction of live dolphins from a stranding site to our mobile rescue unit.
  • Assist with releasing live dolphins back to their environment at pre-determined release sites.


Volunteer Rewards:

  • Meet wonderfully diverse volunteers
  • Help rescue dolphins and porpoises
  • Help seals get the rest or the medical care they need
  • Contribute to the emerging field of stranding science
  • Increase public understanding of stranding and conservation issues




  • All volunteers must be eighteen years of age or older.
  • All volunteers must be permanent residents of Cape Cod or the coastline south of Cape Cod to the Rhode Island boarder.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation.
  • Field volunteers must be in good physical condition, be able to lift 50 lbs and able to swim.
  • Must be able to walk on difficult substrate (sand/mud).
  • Must be able to follow instructions from staff when out in the field.
  • All new volunteers must attend all Stranded Marine Mammal Response Team (SMMRT) Training's and pay the one-time training fee of $25.00 to become activated.
  • The “IFAW MMRR Volunteer Agreement” must be read and signed to become an activated volunteer.
  • All volunteers are required to attend one training per year to maintain an active volunteer status.





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