Becoming a Marine Mammal Medic for BDMLR

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Whilst moving back to my hometown of Whitley Bay in Newcastle, I decided it was time to make the most of living by the sea. I searched for volunteering opportunities related to marine life and found the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation (BDMLR). 

BDMLR is a UK based marine animal rescue organisation which trains members of the public how to safely rescue stranded seals, dolphins, porpoises and whales. 

The organisation was formed in 1988 when a group of divers clubbed together to help respond to a mass mortality of common seals caused by the Phocine Distemper Virus epidemic in the Wash area of East Anglia. Since then, the organisation has trained over 3500 people around the UK who can be called upon at any time if a marine mammal is in trouble in their area. 

I have always wanted to get involved with the rehabilitation of injured wildlife and this sounded like the perfect opportunity. So, I booked on, dug out my wetsuit and headed to the beach.

Myself and the other volunteers learnt about marine mammal biology, identification and physiology. The course co-ordinators then got out their life-sized, water filled seal pups, dolphins, and two-tonne pilot whale! 

Firstly we were taught how to assess, give first aid, handle and lift the seal pup. A technique, called ‘jumping’, quite literally involves one person distracting the seal from the front whilst the other jumps onto the seal from behind, maintaining a steady balance so as not to put weight onto the animal, wrapping a towel over its eyes and holding the seals head in place. 

We were then taught how to perform the same rescue for dolphins and whales, as well as lifting techniques that allow you to re-float the animal back out into the sea using a piece of tarp or a pontoon.

The co-ordinators were also super friendly and enthusiastic about what they do!

If you would like to find out more or sign up for the nearest course in your area, follow the link below.

Kate Hedley | November 2021

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