Saturday, 17 September 2011

BDMLR help stranded Harbour Porpoise found on the Isle of Wight

The BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue) is a registered charity and is operated entirely by volunteers. Rescue teams are on call 24 hours a day to deal with strandings and injuries of marine animals (Cetaceans) as a result of oil spills, fishing gear entanglement and other causes, 365 days a year.

Head Keeper Tara, has been a member of the BDMLR and Marine Mammal Medic for at least 2 years now and fortunately during this time has never received an emergency call to assist in a Cetacean or seal stranding until now!

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The BDMLR were called during the early evening of the 13th September when a live stranded dolphin species was found by a member of the public on Grange Farm beach located on the South coast of the Isle of Wight. The RSPCA, Solent Coastguards and BDLMR Marine Mammal Medics arrived as soon as informed and the rescue operation was soon under-way.


After identifying the Dolphin species as an adult Harbour Porpoise measuring approximately 160cm in length, the marine mammal was then checked for any obvious injuries and general body condition. Unfortunately the Cetacean did have superficial wounds as a result of being washed up on such a rocky beach and it was decided that she should be moved onto higher, softer ground using an inflatable pontoon where she would be more comfortable. The Porpoise was then covered in damp sheets to stop her drying out, which could cause dehydration and skin damage.

On Tara’s arrival, the Porpoise had been given antibiotics and seemed to be in a relatively stable condition, it was just a case of keeping the Porpoise hydrated by gently pouring sea water over the body.


After an hour it was decided that the Porpoise was strong enough to attempt a re-flotation, the only question was where? Due to the high South Westerly winds it was agreed that the best place would be on the northern side of the Island where it was hoped the sea would be much calmer. Half an hour later the Marine Mammal Medics arrived at Appley beach to attempt to re-float the Porpoise by laying her on a tarpaulin sheet and gently rocking her in the water in order to re-gain balance and orientation.

Unfortunately after a couple of attempts she became quite tired and distressed and it soon became evident that the operation would most likely result in a re-stranding of the Porpoise. Therefore it was decided by the vet that in this instance it would be fairer to put the Porpoise to sleep.

Although this case didn’t have a happy ending, if it weren't for the dedication of members of the BDMLR, RSPCA and Coastguards, many hundreds of Seals and other Marine Mammals would not have been rescued or stood a chance of survival. If you would like more information about becoming a Marine Mammal Medic in your local area please visit

The growing support from the public and volunteers is what will enable such charities to continue their valuable work into the future!

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