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


2006-05-15 15:53:13

Beckfoot Dolphin (Marra)

A local man had been walking on the beach when he spotted what looked like a dolphin stranded on the beach. He then walked to a nearby house where the owner contacted one of the Lifeboat launching authorities - he contacted Sandra Robson (a member of the lifeboat crew) and she made a number of phone calls to other members of the lifeboat crew who had been involved with the previous rescue of 'Marra' . The RNLI crew met on the scene where on confirmation that this was indeed a live mammal (dolphin) contacted a member of the Maryport MCA. The RNLI then ensured that the dolphin was kept cool with buckets of water and kept his blow hole clear. They also dug the dolphin out of the sand which was covering his fins and tail.

Tony Woodley rang at 7pm to say we had a stranded dolphin at Beckfoot near Silloth. Local Coastguard/RNLI were in attendance and being guided by advice from Tony. It was agreed that Tony would contact David (medic) who was nearest. My husband Rob (medic/ assistant co-ordinator) started loading the Landrover. I called John (diver) who was with Craig 1 (diver) and Craig 2 (diver). All would attend. I called Julia (medic) and Lynsey (diver) and would collect on our way.

The weather was dreadful, foggy, torrential rain and we had about 30 miles to go. The roads were flooded but we found the Coastguard parked near the beach. The Coastguard briefed me that Andy Carr had built a sand wall with a JCB around the dolphin to hold back the receding tide and the dolphin was in the pool of water. David had arrived and together with the coastguard and a large number of RNLI personnel were caring for the dolphin.

Tony had contacted a , Vicki Weeks and when she arrived the Coastguard and myself had discussions on our options and I gave her a copy of the medic handbook already open at the Vet page.

I went down to look at the dolphin, a bottlenose. I was concerned about the number of people around the dolphin and the noise levels so asked people not involved to stand back. Rob, Julia and Lynsey joined David with the dolphin. I spoke to RNLI and Coastguard and looked at options for refloatation. The ITV Border News arrived and I spoke to them briefly about what was happening. The vet arrived to assess the dolphin and under guidance from James Barnett took blood samples for analysis. Lynsey and Martin (diver) took them to Cockermouth and the vet then gave fluids as the dolphin was slightly dehydrated.

I came up with 3 options for refloatation and I assessed the risks to the dolphin and also to the personnel. I wanted the least stress to the dolphin but refloatation in the dark had me concerned about the safety for all concerned, about 30 plus. I took continual updates and advice from Coastguard, RNLI and vet. The vet gave us the OK for refloatation when the analysis was received showing that the dolphin was fit.

I had asked for a Lifeboat to stand by, the Coastguard for Life jackets and to monitor people safety and the 4 medics would do the refloatation. All those in the water had to wear a lifejacket. Divers would be backup to the medics and vet would give guidance.

Julia co-ordinated the lift into the stretcher and about 12 people including RNLI and Coastguard carried the dolphin out to the rapidly incoming tide. Divers carrying dive torches gave us light and we put the stretcher down in about knee depth of water. The 4 medics knelt in the water supporting the dolphin. He started to move and support himself and gradually started to move very slowly forward. The incoming tide was now chest deep. It became obvious that he wanted to go and as we gently let go of him he took off into the sea so fast he was soon out of reach of our torches.

What a great feeling of relief as he left us. My greatest thanks go to all concerned as the dolphin was successfully released and all personnel safe. I hope he will now stay safely out at sea where he should be.

Jenny Watkins
Medic/Area Co-ordinator