British Divers Marine Life Rescue’s (BDMLR) group in Orkney were called out the other day afternoon (Wednesday 15 March) to a report of a cetacean live-stranded at Waulkmill Bay near Orphir.
Photographs from the finder rapidly verified this to be a minke whale and a group was quickly entrusted to go to the animal, which had actually stranded on the sand at the top of the tide well up the beach.
The initially BDMLR medics on scene, competently helped by the Kirkwall Coastguard group as safety back-up, had the ability to verify that the animal was a four-and-a-half-metre female in outstanding body condition and apparently unstressed by her scenario, so a good prospect for refloat.
While conversations were continuous with the BDMLR Director of Operations and professional associates from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme to verify that the animal was an independent juvenile, along with being a refloat prospect, whale rescue pontoons were released to stabilise the animal.
An effort was made to move the animal at this moment, however with the quickly falling tide, it emerged that there was inadequate water around her to support the body weight, so a strategy of keeping an eye on the animal over the next couple of hours in case she weakened was taken into location while the group waited on the tide to turn. A deep trench was likewise dug to enable water to come around the animal to help keep her damp, along with help the inbound tide with a refloat effort.
After a number of hours and with the whale staying steady, medics remained in position to try a refloat at 1.30am when adequate water was around the animal. Weather conditions had actually weakened significantly by this point and a strong force 5 wind was blowing directly the bay. While this assisted press the tide in quicker, it was developing huge waves, so the group moved the whale out to much deeper water as rapidly and securely as possible.
The animal was making efforts to swim and in the relatively rough conditions, handled to get out of the pontoons at about 2.30am and the group needed to withdraw for safety factors. She was semi-stranded on a sandbank that the group had actually not had the ability to overcome due to the high waves, nevertheless, she was upright, indicating the open water and pressing to swim. With the inbound tide, it was hoped that she would escape rapidly in the quickly increasing tide. A comprehensive sweep of the bay today revealed no indication of the animal, and the group are positive that she has actually left the bay under her own power.
Medics will continue to keep an eye on the location over the next couple of days and demand that if anybody does discover a stranded whale in the location to please contact us quickly on the hotline 01825 765546. They likewise marked the dorsal fin on both sides with orange all-weather animals marker chalk, so if anybody does likewise identify a minke whale around with this marking, once again please get in touch with the hotline.
This was a long and cold event, and BDMLR wants to thank all the medics who went to for all their effort in hard and really cold conditions right up till the really little hours of Thursday early morning. They would likewise like to thank HMCG Area 1 Kirkwall Coastguard rescue group for offering safety cover throughout this event. Finally, they’d like to thank the fantastic members of public who showed up with flasks of warm water after a plea on social networks. This suggested the group might keep warm and hydrated with hot beverages throughout the extended period of keeping an eye on while waiting on the tide. Never ignore the power of a cup of tea after half an hour on a freezing beach!
If you see a live cetacean stranded on the coast, please call the BDMLR hotline on 01825 765 546, choice 1. This number is manned 24 hr a day, 365 days a year. Alternatively, if you discover a dead stranded marine animal, please report this to SMASS through email at: email@example.com or call 07979 245893.