Young dolphin euthanised after becoming trapped

Efforts were made to refloat the calf, however it was carried back to the reeds where it was stranded.

Young dolphin euthanised after becoming trapped in reeds of Cambridgeshire river near Pymoor British Divers Marine Life Rescue

A dolphin found trapped in the reeds at the edge of a river in Cambridgeshire prompting a rescue mission has been euthanised.

At around 7.30pm on Saturday, September 2, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) were called to reports of the young animal at the New Bedford River near Pymoor.

The dolphin is thought to be one of a pair seen as far inland as Bluntisham over the last few days, around 45 miles from open water.

BDMLR medics assessed the scene upon arrival and, understanding the complications of a rescue of this nature, called upon the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service for support and additional help and equipment. 

British Divers Marine Life Rescue

The dolphin had wedged itself deep into the reeds, which have thick hollow stems and can grow to 5 metres high, making the task of extracting the dolphin even more difficult.

With the reeds cut back and the dolphin now out of the water and on the rescuers’ dolphin rescue raft, a full assessment was carried out and first aid measures applied to the stressed animal. 

There was some minor visible trauma to the dolphin’s dorsal area and its breathing rate was elevated. 

Divers said that the young dolphin was almost certainly maternally dependent and would need to be able to find its mother if it were to have a chance of survival, but with no sightings of an adult in that area of the river, it was looking more likely that they had become separated before the calf stranded.

With the uncertainty of whether the mother was in the river and just out of human sight and hearing, and with the dolphin’s breathing returning to normal parameters, the decision was made to refloat the dolphin in the river, and observe for as long as possible in the low light in case it were to restrand. 

The dolphin initially started to swim down river but quickly stopped and was carried back by the flow of the river to where it had started, the dolphin’s course was corrected but again it made little effort to swim and was just being carried back to the river bank and reeds.

A veterinarian was called out and the dolphin was euthanised on welfare grounds at around 1am. 

British Divers Marine Life Rescue

The Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme will carry out a post mortem examination.

The BDMLR said it was still looking out for the other dolphin to track its movements and monitor its health. 

It added that if she can find her way back out to sea without intervention that would be the preferred outcome, however other options are being considered if there is further cause for concern over welfare.

Members of the public are reminded that the species is protected by law from disturbance and should not be approached or interfered with in any way by water users as this may cause distress and difficulties with her current situation.

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