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

News

2014-02-06 09:40:01

BDMLR Trains students in Saudi Arabia

Last year BDMLR was invited to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia to provide a Marine Mammal Medic Course and demonstration to school kids, students and staff during its Winter Enrichment Programme (WEP).

Susan Hemp, an ex London BDMLR Medic (who was part of the London Whale team) now works at KAUST and was a godsend when it came to organisation and looking after the team in country.

Director Gavin Parsons, Office Administrator Julia Cable and Hampshire Area Coordinator Adrian Hawthorne travelled to KAUST at the end of January 2014 and hit the ground running.

“We arrived at KAUST around 11.30pm and were up by 7am the next morning ready to do the first dolphin talk to a selection of school kids,” says Gavin.

KAUST’s WEP includes the university’s students and staff and the children that attend the campus’ school. The team had three dolphin workshops to compete. This involved a dolphin talk conducted by Gavin plus a beach practical session of first aid and release of the dolphin model.

The first day we did two sessions and there was a third on the second day. The children thoroughly enjoyed the workshops and we were praised by the teacher.

Friday was Marine Mammal Medic course and we had a total of 52 student booked, plus the staff who work for the Coastline department also wanted to watch the practical sessions.

WEP is a huge deal at KAUST and students can sign up to all sorts of events, talks, speeches, and a film festival. The Medic Course was full very early on. At the end of the day though we had 42 people.

The classroom sessions were modified from the UK versions as they left out the UK specific species such as seal and included Red Sea and Gulf species such as Dugong and humpback dolphins. Well done to Stephen Marsh, BDMLR Operations Manager for modifying the presentations.

The Beach at KAUST is a great place to run a course. Apart from the fact it was sunny and 30°C, the sand shelves gently and the tidal range is about 15cm. That meant there was no concern with incoming or outgoing water. As the tide came in we just rolled the whale over and it was back in the perfect depth.

Groups of round 10 were put on each animal (we only used the dolphin and whale) and they all had a great time learning how to rescue animals. The students came from across the world. There were some Saudis, plus Canadians, Americans, British, Chinese, Indian, Taiwanese and a few others.

The upshot is we basically showed the world how professional BDMLR is. Maybe one day, when those students have jobs we will get a call from a far flung destination asking for a marine mammal medic course to be run somewhere else.

We finished our time in Saudi with a beach demonstration on an open beach day. We roped in an African drumming band from Senegal (they weren’t drumming at the time), plus a few people from the course the day before.

The pontoon system and dolphin release with tarpaulin were demonstrated with several children joining in. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

The BDMLR team impressed the KAUST  staff and with luck BDMLR may be invited back next winter.

BDMLR would like to thank Adrian Hawthorne and Julia Cable for attending the KAUST WEP week. They worked extremely well and showed how dedicated they are.

Gavin Parsons
BDMLR Trustee and Director