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

News

2012-08-17 11:37:22

Young Beaked Whale strands in Gloucestershire

On Wednesday 15th August I received a call at 21.23hrs from the RSPCA reporting a live stranding at Aust in Gloucestershire. The animal had been called in by a local member of the public who reported a grey, 3m long dolphin with a pointed rostrum, lethargically splashing about on a muddy embankment.

BDMLR medic and Severn Area Rescue Association member Elspeth Hardie was first on the scene and sent through some photographs of the odd-looking, mud-splattered creature. Something didn’t look quite right – it looked more like a beaked whale than a dolphin. I forwarded the images onto BDMLR vet consultant James Barnett who agreed. It took a further two hours to identify the mud-covered animal as a weaning Sowerby’s beaked whale calf.

In the meantime, Elspeth, along with area co-ordinator Jonathan Buck and local medic Emma Bennett tried to make the young calf as comfortable as possible in the dark, slippery and muddy conditions, with help from the Severn Area Rescue Association team, Coastguard and Avon Fire & Rescue Service. The calf was kept cool and moist, with medics hauling buckets back and forth over the 20m distance between the stranding site and low tide water mark and a few hundred metres of water-spraying fire hose at our disposal.

Unfortunately, due to the young age of the beaked whale and the length of time it had been out of the water (around 12 hours), the animal was deemed unfit for refloatation. Chris Artingshall from the Rowe Vet Group attended and the calf was euthanised at approximately 3am. Staff from the Zoological Society of London will be conducting a necropsy within the next few days and will also confirm the species.

A huge thank you to all BDMLR medics who responded to the call-out and worked throughout the night at the stranding site. Many thanks also to the Severn Area Rescue Association, Coastguard, Avon Fire & Rescue Service, Rowe Vet Group and James Barnett for help and advice.

Sam Lipman
BDMLR Out-of-hours Coordinator