The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (LMMN) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit focused on protecting marine mammals (dolphins, whales, and seals) in South Carolina waters. The Lowcountry is home to approximately 350 year-round “resident” dolphins. These mammals rely on clean, safe and quiet water to hunt, socialize and rear young. Through collaboration with the South Carolina Marine Mammal Stranding Network (SCMMSN) administered by Coastal Carolina University (Conway, SC), the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network hopes to increase awareness about marine mammals in coastal South Carolina, educate the general public on federal regulations and foster young stewards in ways to protect both marine mammals and their environment. The SCMMSN is authorized under a Letter of Authorization from NOAA Fisheries to respond to marine mammal strandings.
Marine Mammals strand seasonally based on their location and species. Approximately 50 marine mammals strand every year in South Carolina, 80% of which are bottlenose dolphins. The SCMMSN responds to and retrieves stranded animals from beaches and waterways in hopes to learn more about their cause of death, anatomy and physiology, distribution, disease and life history. This program needs our help to continue responding to live and dead animals, continue conducting valuable research to help understand why these animals are stranding, and educate the public on how you can help protect these animals.
Marine mammals are federally protected by law under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) which prohibits the “taking” of marine mammals in all US waters. A “take” is defined as “to harass, capture, kill, or feed any marine mammal”. Collecting or harassing dead marine mammal remains is also considered a “take”. Violations can result in fines, imprisonment, or seizure of vessels and licenses.