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NewsAnimal NewsWarning issued after walkers accidentally drown two-month-old dolphin

Warning issued after walkers accidentally drown two-month-old dolphin

A MARINE life rescue charity has pleaded with the public not to refloat beached animals after members of the public accidentally drowned a two-month-old dolphin.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) last week urged anyone that comes across stranded animals on the beach to wait for experts to arrive.

The appeal comes after well-meaning members of the public tried to save a stranded dolphin in Orkney in the Northern Isles just days before but accidentally killed it.

The dead dolphin calf
The members of the public had refloated the mammal before the rescue team arrived.

Despite BDMLR arriving just 15-minutes after being called to the scene, the white-beaked dolphin calf had been refloated by members of the public and drowned. 

Animal medics were devastated after finding the young, female calf floating listlessly in the water.

A dolphin, believed to be the calf’s mother, was spotted circling around in the waters shortly afterwards.

The otherwise healthy dolphin, which was still maternally dependent, is believed to have fatally inhaled water through its blowhole and into its lungs. 

Heart-breaking images show the mammal with white foam flowing from its lifeless blowhole, a tell-tale sign that a dolphin has drowned.

The BDMLR have now highlighted the importance of members of the public waiting for experts to arrive in order to prevent future similar scenarios. 

They said: “On Saturday 22nd January 2022, BDMLR were alerted to what was reported to be alive stranded harbour porpoise on the beach in Scapa, Orkney.

“Unfortunately, before our Marine Mammal Medics arrived, the animal had been refloated by well-meaning members of the public, and on arrival our medics sadly found the animal floating listlessly in the water where it appeared to have drowned. 

“The body was retrieved from the shallows and medics were extremely surprised to find that rather than being a harbour porpoise, the animal was in fact a young white-beaked dolphin calf. 

“A sad outcome for this poor dolphin which highlights the importance of contacting rescue organisations for assistance and advice – there is often a reason why animals have stranded and it is very important they have a full assessment before any refloat attempt is made.

They added: “If you find a stranded porpoise, dolphin or whale, please do not touch or move them and call our emergency rescue line on 01825 765546 (option one) for advice and we will dispatch trained medics to attend the scene with the appropriate PPE and equipment.
“Even though these members of the public were doing what they believed to be best, sometimes putting them back into the sea can do more harm than good.”

Hundreds of animal lovers have commented on the heartbreaking incident.

Deborah Messenger said: “I feel for the person who thought they were helping.”

June Walker said: “Terribly sad for all concerned – including the well-meaning, kind souls who tried to help her. I can’t begin to imagine how bad they must feel, poor little mite.”

Sharon Williams said: “It’s about time schools started including our coast on the curriculum, it’s ridiculous people don’t know about the wildlife on their doorstep.”

Linda Partington said: “Such a shame. Only the experts know what to do even though it’s not exactly what you expect, poor thing.”

Mo Eloise said: “Awful that she died, people thinking they know how to help but they don’t.” 

The dead dolphin calf
BDMLR have now pleaded with the public to wait for experts to arrive at the scene before taking action.

Speaking today, BDMLR’s area coordinator for Orkney, Emma Neave-Webb, said: “Dolphins don’t like water down their blowhole anymore than we like it up our noses. 

“Their blowholes go straight to their lungs, they have much more controlled breathing than we do.

“She was a very young animal breathing erratically and she took a breath under water and that’s what killed her. 

“It’s very important to keep the blowhole clear of water and not refloat them as they might not have the strength to lift their head out of the water to breath. 

“It’s really counter intuitive (refloating animals), ultimately that what experts will do but there is a process. 

“The most important thing of all is to call for help as soon as possible and to call an expert. 

“Don’t put the animal back in the water, stay with it but try not to touch them. 

“Dolphins carry lots of diseases that we can catch too.” 

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