Another stranded dolphin has been found on a South Wales beach.
The striped dolphin was found by dog walkers along Aberthaw Beach, near Gileston on Saturday (18 August).
It follows two stranded dolphins recently being washed up in Pembrokeshire – one in Saundersfoot and the other in Newgale – which saw members of the public attempt to move them back into the water.
An RSPCA Cymru appeal then followed to warn “well-meaning” beach-walkers that moving beached dolphins was the “wrong thing to do for the animals, and their welfare”. Dolphins tend to beach for a reason – often because they have major welfare complications, or even because they are dying.
People are advised to instead to call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999, and provide as much information as possible about the location of the animal, and their condition. The animal charity can then do whatever they can to help – or if necessary alleviate the animal’s suffering as quickly as possible.
On Saturday, RSPCA inspectors Gemma Black and Selina Griffiths first attended and were shortly joined by volunteers of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) along with RSPCA inspector Gemma Cooper and inspector Keith Hogben, who is the deputy national wildlife co-ordinator for the charity.
RSPCA inspector Gemma Black said: “The members of the public did a great job of doing what they could to keep the dolphin stable before we arrived and made sure any dogs were kept away.
“The advice from the BDMLR and their vet over the phone based in Cornwall was to carry the dolphin to the waters edge in the shallows. Shortly after this we were joined by a large animal vet and Inspector Hogben assessed the dolphin in the shallows.
“The dolphin was extremely underweight, its breathing was snatchy and was very unwell. The large animal vet on scene, Inspector Hogben and the vet from BDMLR discussed the matter together and it was agreed that the best and only option for the dolphin was to put it to sleep to alleviate any further suffering. Blood samples were taken by the vet and it was then humanely euthanized.”
Inspector Black said it was a “great team effort” despite the sad outcome.
She said: “There were members of the public that stayed for hours with the dolphin to help. Their hard work was gratefully appreciated as was the help and support of the BDMLR volunteers which we would like to thank. It was a sad outcome that the dolphin had to be put to sleep but at least any future suffering was stopped. The body of the dolphin will be sent off for analysis with the hope of learning more.
“We’d just like to thank everyone who was involved, it was a great team effort.”
RSPCA Cymru has issued a summer plea urging anyone who finds a beached cetaceans to contact the RSPCA immediately, and not seek to refloat the animal.
The charity works with the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) – in part funded by Welsh Government – which investigates whales, dolphins, porpoises, marine turtles and basking sharks stranded across the UK’s coastline. Post-mortems of these animals can help establish a cause of death, and provide important insights into the health of populations living in the sea in a specific area.
RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said the dolphin will have a post mortem to determine why she was found to be in such poor condition leading her to be put to sleep. It is currently unknown if any of the recent incidents involving unwell dolphins are linked.
He said: “We work closely with CSIP, who do very important work in deciphering the cause of death for many cetaceans and other marine mammals. If the cause of death can be established, this knowledge can help to support the wider population in the future.
“If anyone sees a beached cetacean, they should ring the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999, and provide as much information as possible about the location of the animal, and their condition. We can then do whatever we can to help – or at least alleviate the animal’s suffering as quickly as possible.
“It is a very distressing fact that often these animals are found on land with severe welfare problems, or have moved there to die. Returning them to the sea is not helping them however well-intentioned someone may be.
“There’s also substantial zoonotic disease risk of handling the animals in this way. This could be serious for human health.”
If you wish to help RSPCA Cymru, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.