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!


Please know that COVID-19 has altered the way we are able to conduct our trainings and how volunteers respond to strandings. We thank you for your patience during this time while we continuously adapt to the changes set forth by the state of Massachusetts and the CDC. 


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 261 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!!
    • The star marks where our Rescue Operations Center is located
    • The blue line shows where we typically see most of our cetacean strandings

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


Volunteer Requirements

  • All volunteers must be fully vaccinated for COVID to respond with the team. You will need to disclose your vaccination status to a secure email address provided if you are accepted into the volunteer program. If you are not comfortable disclosing your vaccination status, unfortunately we will not be able to volunteer with us. 
    • Most responses require being within 6ft of one another so this is for the safety of all participants involved.  
  • All volunteers must be eighteen years of age and older.
  • All volunteers must be permanent residents of Cape Cod or the coastline south of Cape Cod to the Rhode Island border.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation.
  • Field volunteers should be in good physical condition, able to lift 50 lbs and able to swim.
    • Note: there are some roles a responder can be assigned at a response that do not require as much physical exertion so please do not let that scare you!
  • New volunteers must attend all of the Stranded Marine Mammal Response Team (SMMRT) trainings and pay the one-time training fee of $25.00 to be activated as a volunteer.        
  • Volunteers must read and sign the “IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Volunteer Agreement” and "IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Liability Release and Assumption of Risk" to be activated as a volunteer.
    • You will receive these documents to sign if you have been selected as a volunteer responder.
  • Volunteers are responsible for informing IFAW staff of changes in personal contact information via e-mail to
  • All volunteers are required to attend one training session annually to maintain active status. 





I would like to volunteer

Fill in an application

Already use to volunteer with this organization?
Log in to your account

Get Social