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


2005-02-23 15:39:18

Striped dolphin, Llanelli

I got a call from Sue at HQ at around ten thirty am, then phoned Phil Lewis for the lowdown and, after a brief Anneka Rice spell trying to track down some waders (trousers, not birds) at Cardiff University, Caleb Munday (MMMedic with a drysuit) and I left the Capital and headed off to help a stranded Striped dolphin at Llanelli. We arrived at the North Dock at Midday and found the animal swimming around an inflated pool, a short distance from the original stranding site. She had been moved there by Terry Leadbetter and Darren from the Welsh Marine Life Rescue and RSPCA inspectors Nigel Duguid, Rohan Barker and Richard Abbott were taking turns in the rather chilly pool, walking her around the enclosure with the aid of a stretcher. Others that were sufficiently drysuited joined in the rota. Soon, RSPCA inspector Elaine Spence arrived with trainee Jacqui Mills and others, with some much needed hot coffee for the cold dolphin walkers.

She was a young female Striped dolphin of around 1.6m, moderately malnutritioned, with eyes shut tight throughout and fairly quick breathing. There had been reported bleeding from the genital slit and/or anus. However, this had apparently ceased and was thought to be superficial. Over the next few hours there was little change until a marked decline in her behaviour between two and three pm. Her body position in the water was less stable and when tested swimming solo, her buoyancy and breathing seemed less coordinated. From half past two, she began to thrash about and arch her back. We were awaiting a vet, but it didn't look hopeful. Shortly, Ewan Lloyd from St. James Vet Group in Swansea arrived. The decision was made to euthanase, after discussion with James Barnett, BDMLR Vet Director. Upon closer inspection, the dolphin had some ventral bruising and minor abrasion wounds. By this time her eyes were open and she was displaying major tremoring. A blood sample was taken and before euthanasia could be completed, the animal had collapsed - the jaw became loose and there were no obvious body movements. Reflexes were monitored and slight pulses were noticed visually in the jaw, which ceased after a few minutes. After stethoscopic examination she was pronounced dead at 3:05pm. Rod Penrose, Strandings Officer for Wales, who had been there for much of the ordeal, took the dolphin for post mortem.

During the day, many locals came past to see the dolphin and wished her well. The later visitors were sorry to hear the bad news.

Helen Hedworth
Wales Assistant Coordinator (Cardiff)

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