Marine mammal rescue drill carried out at busy beach in East Lothian


BEACH revellers enjoying the hottest weekend of the year so far had a shock yesterday (Sun) when it appeared as though a mother and baby whale had washed up on the sand.

But it was only a drill being carried out by volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group, who were on an important training exercise at Gullane Beach, East Lothian, with two inflatable models.

Both of the inflatables were life-sized and filled with water to reflect the true weight of the marine mammals.

It took four people to move the smaller of the two.

Crowds gathered around their lifelike police cordon as they prepared to assess the situation.

Jo Headley, Edinburgh co-ordinator of the organisation, said: “Strandings are not an everyday occurance but it is important that everyone on our team gets used to real life situations and that they get used to using the equipment in situations which are a little bit more dramatic than just on a training course.

“It is so important because very often it is not a nice day like it is today – it can be on a rocky shore, or it can be in the middle of the night.

“Everyone has got to be 100 per cent happy with what they are doing so that the animals welfare is maximised.”

Ms Headley, who has been with the organisation for around five years, said they tend whales, porpoises, dolphins and seals.

She said: “If possible we would try to refloat the whales, dolphins and porpoises and rehabilitate the seals, obviously depending on their condition.

“These big emergencies are quite rare, we are only called out to something big like this maybe once or twice a year, but injured seals are a lot more common.

“That is why it is so important to keep the training up.

“We have about 40 or 50 trained volunteers on a list and they would be texted in a real emergency.

“But there are about a dozen of us at the core who are heavily involved.”

The group covers the coastline from Dundee down to the Scottish Borders, and anyone who would like to volunteer with the BDMLR can go along to one of their training days.

Ms Headley added: “We have a marine mammal medic course coming up on Saturday 18 June at the Sea Bird centre in North Berwick.

“It is for anybody who would like to come along and become a member.

“The training course will mean they will be insured and able to deal with situations like this one.”