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Mass dolphin stranding in Aberdeenshire

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British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Marine Mammal Medics were involved in dealing with a mass stranding involving white beaked dolphins in Aberdeenshire, but thankfully, the operation had a successful outcome.

BDMLR were first made aware of the incident at around 7am yesterday (Monday 5 June) when they were informed that a pair of white beaked dolphins had stranded on the beach at Tiger Hill, near Fraserburgh.

Several members of the public who were with the mammals were offered advice by the BDMLR hotline co-ordinator on what they could do to help while the Marine Mammal Medic rescue team were despatched.

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Marine Mammal Medics with one of the dolphins

The dolphins were very stressed and their breathing rate was worryingly high – both animals were stranded on their sides and were showing signs of severe stress. However, the dolphins appeared to be of an adult age and without any major visible trauma, so as soon as the Marine Mammal Medic team arrived, they set to work on getting the animals upright and reducing their breathing rate, with the hope of being able to return them to the sea. 

The dolphins were made comfortable on the beach and protected from the elements while a full health assessment was carried out by a veterinarian, where the animals were considered in good condition and we were given the go ahead to return them to the water. 

While these two dolphins were being returned to the water, a report came in via HM Coastguard of a third dolphin partially stranded further along the beach, which was being supported by three members of the public. The dolphin had only been stranded for a short amount of time, so after a brief assessment to cause as little stress as possible on the animal, it too was returned to the sea. 

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One of the dolphins being returned to the sea

The entire rescue was not without difficulties and two of the dolphins unfortunately restranded before a second attempt to refloat was made, but eventually all three animals were out to sea and at around 7.45pm, the last of the BDMLR volunteers left the beach.

White beaked dolphins are a pelagic species known to be regular visitors around the Scottish coast, they are often seen in small to large groups and have been known to associate with other cetacean species. 

BDMLR would like to thank the residents and visitors of Fraserburgh for their support and initial reports, Buchan Veterinary Clinic, HM Coastguard, RNLI, the Fire & Rescue Service, and of course, all of the Marine Mammal Medics for working together to help save these dolphins.

Photo credit: Walter Innes

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Mark Evans
Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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