Tonight as I was sitting here I got a text message from BDMLR asking for medics to attend a dolphin stranding in the Bristol area. I am a qualified Marine Mammal Medic however sadly as I don’t drive I couldn’t attend. However with this being the third marine mammal incident I am aware of this week (there was a Fin Whale stranding in Cornwall on Monday, and a Fin Whale stranded in Baltimore Harbour in West Cork) I’ve decided to write a little bit about marine mammals rescue in the UK.
Within the UK marine mammal rescues are managed by a single charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), who rely on a national network of trained “medic” volunteers to respond to incidents around the UK coast. BDMLR is the only organisation with the skills, equipment and training to deal with marine rescues within the UK. This means that basically when something happens the coastguard, rspca, police, or wildlife rescue will place a call to their headoffice stranding hotline. Upon recieving this a mass text message goes out to all medics on the call out register in close proximity to the strandings. The first medic to arrive on scene then starts to coordinate the rescue, backed up by further medics arriving and the specialised veterinary team at BDMLR by phone. Where possible refloatation is attempted after veterinary assessment however sadly many animals strand when terminally ill so cannot be refloated.
I was originally going cover some marine mammal biology, however its such a broad topic that I got lost in it all. I will instead look at individual species of marine mammals over the next month or two so I can present these magnificient creatures with the detail the deserve!