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


2009-05-05 13:16:01

Successfull refloatation of Common Dolphin on Isles of Scilly

Young common dolphin (Photo: Tim Bain)A dramatic but successful rescue unfolded on the Isles of Scilly on Tuesday 5th May. At 10.40am British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) received the news that a dolphin had stranded on a beach near Old Grimsby, Tresco on the Isles of Scilly

In a tough logistical operation BDMLR headquarters in Uckfield, East Sussex and Dave Jarvis (BDMLR Cornwall Regional Co-ordinator) with help from the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust started organising a rescue team to attend on site. BDMLR medics Dan Jarvis and Tim Bain in Cornwall gathered equipment together quickly and headed to the Heliport at Penzance to be flown across to the Isles of Scilly by British International Helicopters. A boat then met the rescue team at St Mary's before taking them to New Grimsby where they were picked up by the Coastguard and driven to the site of the stranding.

This was one of the hardest rescues to organise as we don't normally have to go to these lengths to get a rescue team to the site of a stranding" said Trevor Weeks National Co-ordinator based at Uckfield in East Sussex.

Local residents, Coastguard and a local vet Dr Heike Dorn were all on site at an early stage and were in touch with BDMLR Head Office where there were given first aid and advice on looking after the stranded animal until medics could arrive on site.

Pictures were organised and e-mailed to BDMLR to check on its size, species and body condition. The local coastguard were given advice on holding the dolphin in the water and guided through the early stages of helping prepare the dolphin for a possible refloatation once the rescue team arrived on site.

The dolphin was 157cm in length and identified as a Common Dolphin. "There are some minor grazes to the beak and fins but these are not causes our medics and vet any concern, and the lumber muscle is in good condition. The lumber muscle which runs down the back of the animal is a good indicator of the animals body condition. This animal appears to be a juvenile common dolphin. We have previously had juvenile dolphins getting caught out by the tide and sand bars so we suspect this dolphin has stranded due to navigational error in the shallow water there" said Cornwall Co-ordinator Dave Jarvis.

Early afternoon on Tuesday 5th May, Tim and Dan arrived on site and were able to confirm the body condition as good. BDMLR veterinary consultants James Barnett and Darryl Thorpe also helped advise on the situtation and confirm the dolphin was suitable to be refloated. Helped by the coastguard, Tim and Dan were able to take the dolphin out to sea to deeper water whilst helping to regain the dolphins equilibrium before attempting a released next to the boat.

"We had to take it 2 miles off shore to deep enough water to attempt the refloat. At first it swam off slowly then seemed to gain its confidence and swan off healthily into the distance" said Tim Bain.

"This is a great success and timely as BDMLR are running a marine mammal medic training course on the Isles of Scilly this coming Sunday. We would like to thank all the local residents, staff from the Island Hotel, local vet, Isles of Silly Wildlife Trust and Coastguard for all their help and support" said Cornwall Regional Co-ordinator and BDMLR Director Dave Jarvis.

Anyone wanting to learn how to help stranded dolphins should check out our . BDMLR train volunteer Marine Mammal Medics on their Marine Mammal Medic Training Courses around the country including courses on the Isle of Scilly this weekend and at Bewl Water on the Kent and Sussex border on 16th May.

Trevor Weeks
National Co-ordinator