Islanders’ attempt to rescue of a stranded dolphin has ended in tragedy as the animal could not be saved.
The distressed sea creature was found with wounds inflicted by gulls on her side and above her eye on Saturday.
Medics from British Divers Marine Life Rescue were called to help the adult female white-beaked dolphin struggling on her side on a rocky shelf on Sanday, Orkney.
Despite her injuries, she was thought to be in good health and so a small team decided to attempt to refloat her.
Weather conditions were challenging in the surf, so the medics wanted to move the dolphin to a safer location.
Because of the remote location, on the northeast of the island, a shout was put out on social media asking for volunteers.
Islanders quickly established a small team and, after a safety briefing, they were able to help the medics move the animal on a dolphin stretcher and into a trailer.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) workers transported her to another beach. The team got the dolphin in the water and she managed to swim away.
But the success was short-lived. The white-beaked dolphin did swim out to sea and instead circled back round and became stranded again 600 metres down the beach.
The BDMLR medics worked for hours to try and get her out to sea but each time she swam off she circled back round to the beach.
The team consulted the organisation’s vet and they decided to try a different location in case the animal was disorientated.
But before the rescuers had the chance to move her, her condition deteriorated rapidly.
She was in suffering and after speaking with the team’s vet again, a decision was made to euthanise her.
With no vet on Sanday, Kirkwall veterinarians Flett and Carmichael were brought out by charter vessel.
The dolphin was put to sleep at around 1am on Sunday morning.
A BDMLR spokesperson said: “The animal was retrieved and a full investigation took place Sunday afternoon and samples sent to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme team. A full report and results will be published at a later date.
“We would like to thank Flett and Carmichael for all their assistance and for attending late at night.
“Also, all the islanders who rallied together to give this animal as much chance as possible to survive and medics Imogen Sawyer and Russell Neave for attending with the area coordinator and to medic Karen Hetherington on mainland Orkney for assisting with arranging the vet and charter boat with Groats Charters.”
BDMLR is a charity dedicated to rescuing marine animals in distress around the UK. To find out more visit here.
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