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

News

2005-02-08 15:34:32

Harbour porpoise stranding - Fraserburgh

On Tuesday 8th of February at 2.30pm, a member of the public contacted the SSPCA to alert them of a stranded dolphin on the Fraserburgh beach. The call was in turn forwarded to SSPCA officers and also BDMLR headquarters. Local SSPCA officers were despatched to the scene, whilst BDMLR HQ contacted Aberdeenshire assistant Co-ordinator Andrew Ireland and Aberdeen Co-ordinator Nick Duthie, who in turn contacted Aberdeenshire Co-ordinator Kenneth McLennan. Kenneth issued a text message (“Dolphin – Fraserburgh Beach”) to all members of the Fraserburgh group and then loaded his vehicle with all necessary kit that would be required for the stranding. Whilst Kenneth, Andrew and all the group volunteers were on route to the scene a further location update was issued from BDMLR HQ that the dolphin’s location was ‘The Waters of Philorth’ however this still left a sizable area and therefore still required a search. Once the cetacean was discovered, it was identified as a harbour porpoise and not a dolphin, which for reasons unknown was located some considerable distance up the river estuary. The porpoise appeared to be a large adult who was lying at a slight angle with her blowhole partially submerged, no other injuries were evident at this time and the decision was made to right the porpoise to assist breathing. Alan (SSPCA officer) then remained with her whilst Kenneth made his way back to the car to retrieve further equipment. Shortly after arriving back at the vehicle, Vet Cameron from the CRRU arrived as did Andrew and Fraserburgh volunteer Andrew Cordinder. All members of the rescue team headed to the porpoise’s location with the rescue kit that was required. On arrival back at the stranding site an inflatable mattress was assembled and the porpoise was removed from the estuary and located on the mattress for further examination. Water was applied to keep the body moist and a windbreak was setup to protect the animal from the wind as visible signs of hypothermia were evident. It was found to be an adult female, approx 1.7m long, and estimated weight of approx 60kg. Respiration rate remained at 4-5 per min throughout, with normal depth. Kenneth went back to the vehicle to collect the dolphin pontoons so as to perform a refloatation whilst an attempt to re-hydrate and pass a stomach tube was made, but before a tube could be passed a large amount of fluid was regurgitated, having the appearance of bloody gastric fluid and an individual worm was also brought up. On the basis of the reduced body weight, hypothermia and possible gastric bleeding, a decision was made to euthanase as a reflotation may only cause the animal more pain and suffering. Once passed away, she was carried back to the vehicles for transportation to SAC in Inverness the following day for a full post-mortem.

Many thanks to the vigilant members of public, SSPCA officers, Vet Cameron – CRRU, Aberdeenshire Co-ordinator Kenneth McLennan, Assistant Co-ordinator Andrew Ireland, Volunteer Andrew Cordiner, BDMLR Montrose (Elaine and team for being on standby), and to Nick for forwarding the call.

Apologies to Elaine Roft and James Barnett as Kenneth was unable to keep you updated on the situation due to poor mobile phone reception.

Andrew Ireland
BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic
Fraserburgh Asst. Co-ordinator