Lifeboat rescues stranded dolphin

The RNLI and Coastguard launched an unusual rescue near Dartmouth, UK, after six people were seen in the water trying to save a stranded dolphin.

A pod of dolphins had been spotted near the entrance to the Old Mill Creek during the late afternoon, the RNLI says, possibly because a dolphin was in trouble further inshore.

Having established that the swimmers were all out of the water and safe, the lifeboat crew discussed how to proceed with a member of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue team who was with the Dartmouth Coastguard onshore.

“[The RNLI] were attempting to re-float a stranded dolphin from the mud banks in the centre of the creek, whilst fending off a number of other dolphins who were also at risk of stranding too,” the Dartmouth Coastguard Rescue Team says in a statement.

Image courtesy of Dartmouth Coastguard Rescue Team

Usually, in dolphin rescues, the crew wrap the dolphin in a tarpaulin and then return it to the water. The volunteer helm decided to use the ambulance pouch on the lifeboat to keep the dolphin alongside the boat but still submerged.

The adult dolphin was slowly taken into deeper water and released in the middle of the river, where it swam off, although the dolphin attempted to beach itself again shortly afterwards.

The lifeboat crew took it back out to deep water, where it was released for a second time successfully.

“It looked strong when released and swam off powerfully up the river,” the RNLI says.

A lesser-known role of the Coastguard is to take measurements and details of dead dolphins, porpoises, whales and sturgeon found on UK shores, recording their conditions or any obvious causes of death. This data is given to the National History Museum, which maintain national records for these important mammals.

“If you discover dolphins, porpoises, whales or sturgeon washed up, do not touch them as they can carry infectious diseases which can be easily transferred to a human,” the Dartmouth Coastguard Rescue Team says.

It is not the first time that members of the Dart lifeboat crew have worked with a rescue team to save the life of a marine animal: the team helped to release a humpback whale that had become trapped on two occasions off Blackpool Sands in 2017. And, in 2020, RNLI Southend deployed a hovercraft to free two dolphins stranded in mudflats.

Readers can watch scenes from the 2020 dolphin rescue in the video below:

Last year, Marine Industry News reported that RNLI was called out after a member of the public spotted what they thought was a white, overturned hull drifting in Looe Bay. The RNLI discovered it was the decomposing carcass of a whale.

Comments are closed.