Stricken dolphins rescued from harbour


By Paul Thornton

A MOTHER dolphin and her calf had to be saved after becoming stuck in mud at a harbour.

It is thought the white sided dolphin became trapped after trying to help her young calf when he strayed into shallow water at Broughty Ferry yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Builders working nearby managed to lift the calf back into the water, near the Tay Bridge in Dundee.

But animal rescuers were needed to don floating equipment and dry suits to lead the stricken mum back to deeper water.

Members of the public raised the alarm around 9.30am after finding the mother and calf, thought to be less than six-months old, stranded in mud near Broughty Ferry Castle.

Although workmen were able to free the calf, the four-and-a-half-foot mother was left stuck in the shallow water and rescuers from Shanwell Wildlife Rescue Trust were called in.

And both mother and child were freed and swam to safety less than an hour after the discovery.

Animal care assistant, Isla Gayton, said fellow rescuers were able to lead the porpoise to safety.

She said: “The calf was right up in the mud and a couple of workmen that were nearby went into the mud and picked the calf up.

“But before that, the mother had obviously tried to get closer to the calf to show him the way out and became stuck herself.

“We just had to turn her in the right direction and lead her out to the deep water and off she went.”

Miss Gayton said Gareth Norman and John Bell from the Water React Team wore personal floatation devices and dry suits as they waded out with the mother dolphin before the Scottish SPCA were called as a precaution.

Scottish SPCA Inspector Nicola Stewart said: “We were alerted by the Forth Coast Guard to a dolphin and calf stranded in shallow water in the River Tay close to Broughty Ferry Castle.

“On arrival, we found the mother and calf to be swimming freely in open water. We watched them for some time swimming out in the bay to ensure they were okay.

“They were happily swimming together despite their ordeal.”

Miss Stewart said it was likely that the mother was trying to help her wayward offspring before becoming caught herself.

She said: “It may be that the baby got stuck first and the mother came out to try and encourage it back and then become stranded herself.

“Some beaches slope at such an angle that the dolphins sonars are not able to detect the sea bed until they are in very shallow water.”

If you come across a stranded sea mammal you can contact the Scottish SPCA’s animal helpline on 03000 999 999.