Certain marine species are protected by federal law. Should any of these species be inadvertently taken in nets, on fishing hooks or otherwise, they must be taken to a rehabilitation facility or immediately released unharmed. Protected species include, but are not restricted, to the following:

  • All marine mammals (including Bottlenose Dolphin and West Indian Manatee)
  • Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Green Sea Turtles
  • Atlantic and Gulf Sturgeon
  • Marine birds
  • Smalltooth and Largetooth Sawfish


If an injured or dead sea turtle or marine mammal is found, immediately call the following office:

Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, 1-888-SOS-DOLPHIN (1-888-767-3657) *National Marine Fisheries Service, Pascagoula, 228-369-4796

 Information on manatee sightings is greatly needed. To report a sighting, or if an injured or dead manatee is found, immediately call:

  • Manatee Sighting Network, 1-866-493-5803

To report a captured Gulf sturgeon call:

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 850-769-0552

For more information on Gulf sturgeon, please contact:

Michael J. Andres, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Division of Coastal Sciences
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
The University of Southern Mississippi

For all other injured or dead protected species, immediately notify:

  • Department of Marine Resources, 228-374-5000

Please note that criminal violations (intentionally shooting, killing or harming endangered or threatened animals) of the Endangered Species Act carry a maximum fine of $20,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year. Should this action be observed, call NOAA Fisheries Service or MDMR Marine Patrol.

Attention fishermen: It is against the law to possess fish with heads, tails or flesh removed until the final destination. Fish may be eviscerated and scaled. To protect sea turtles, please discard fish parts in trash receptacles on land.