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


2006-04-16 13:57:20

Harbour porpoise - Druridge Bay, North of Cresswell, Northumberland

Air temp 12C. Windy with broken cloud. Mostly sunny.

Received a call from Andy Tait at Sea Watch on the 16th April 2006 at approximately 4pm. I was informed of a dead porpoise on the beach in Druridge Bay near Cresswell, Northumberland. Andy informed me that a person (no name given) had buried the body under about 4 inched of sand so carrion would not cause any further damage. It could not be acsertained as to whether the porpoise had been a live stranding or had been washed up dead.

The body location had been marked on the beach by a pink wellington on the end of a stick poking out of the ground!

Sarah Madder (MMM) and husband Keith Madder were at the site already and we dug the body of the porpoise out of the sand, washed it in the sea and then took photos. Apart from the damage cause by carrion the animal seemed to be in pretty good shape, with no evidence of skin disease or lesions and no injury. Teeth seemed to be in good condition although we couldn't see the bottom jaw teeth as the mouth was packed full of sand. One eye had been bleeding (possibly pecked out by birds). Skin looks as if it had been rubbed off on lower jaw due to sand abrasion. Identified as a male.

The local farmer was of great help as he brought the animal up the beach to my car in a very large JCB type machine. The animal was estimated to be over 5ft in length. Sarah lay down next to the body She is 5ft 2 inches in her stocking feet and the porpoise was the same length as Sarah. Hardly scientific but it helped to give an idea of size.

The animal was then collected from me at Chester le Street and taken to storage in Ponteland where it will be collected on Thursday and taken for post mortem to NHM, London.

The animal condition was just my observations and canot be relied on to be accurate or correct (expecially the gender bit!)...

Thank you to Sarah and Keith Madder and also the farmer who allowed us access across his land to the beach and helped recover the porpoise...

Graeme Shaw
BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic
Assistant Co-ordinator, Tyne Tees region