British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2007-05-28 15:16:05

Porpoise and Gannets at Hunmanby Gap, North Yorkshire

I received a call out at 09:30 from Bev Drayton to attend a stranded "whale" as reported by MOP on the beach at Hunmanby gap.

I was out and about with my wife Gill and pooch Ryker at the time on our way to Filey for a nice cloudy,windy,cold walk on the sand like you do on a bank holiday monday, after the initial "A WHAT", we thought it may be something else and said Iwould go and check it out for Bev.

On arrival we met the car park attendant who said a couple of teenagers had reported a whale on the beach, and also two Guillemots laying together dead or injured further along the beach, having looked himself from quite a distance he told us he thought it was a seal, which seemed more likely, we could see the dot in the distance just in the edge of the surf.

Once on the beach I had a look through my binoculars and could see it was a small porpoise or dolphin and was getting washed about in the surf. Bev had already guessed it may be a porpoise and she was right, not very old at all, having checked for any signs of life of which I found none I moved it up the beach out of the surf for closer inspection. It was a Neonate with the lingual papillae present around the tongue, a small female.

No other signs of injury and in good condition (if that can be said of a dead porpoise) it looks likely that it may have got separated from mum in the heavy seas and got washed up.

The weather was cold and cloudy with a stiff north wind blowing making the sea rough and she would have had no chance of getting back to her mother.

Having phoned Bev with the bad news it was decided to remove her from the beach so using a towel to wrap her up in I carried her up the beach onto the stones at the base of the cliff.

Now all we had to do was find the birds, (what a quiet walk this was turning into). Gill who had been dog sitting at a safe distance away now came with our dog (on lead) to help look, we saw a man I knew and asked him if he had seen anything and he pointed them out to us (cheers for that Paul).

When we got there it looked like one of the birds had died and the other one was laid right next to it's mate not wanting to leave it, I have to say they look like Gannets to me but I am not sure, (see photo's). [Yes, indeed they are Gannets. Tony-Editor]

Any way having got up close and about to get personal with them it appeared that they were fastened together by some sort of fishing line around their bills. I pulled on my heavy duty gloves and cut the live one free gave it a check over and let it go, it sat on the beach for a while and then took off and flew away to wherever big sea birds fly to when they have just been handled by a medic with big gloves on. I put the other bird in a bag for removal from the beach.

On the way back to pickup the porpoise Simon phoned to see which part of the beach we were on so he could meet us, he had come down with Bev and Garion (hope that's right), we met up and took the two bodies off the beach to a corner behind a building so Bev and Simon could have a look to see what they thought. Simon took some photo's for their records and Bev asked me if I would fill in the appropriate forms and file a report, we then went to the beach cafe to get warmed through with a coffee, for which I must say thank you to Bev for buying.

While we were there Bev arranged for the council to take the bodies away out of harms way.

A big thank you to Gill (my wife) for dog sitting on a very cold beach while I was doing what medics do, and also a big thanks to Bev and Simon for coming out and supporting me on the call.

Bruce Pawson
Filey MMM