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Marine Mammal Rescue Falklands Conservation


  • pg 1
									General Information
This leaflet is for anyone who may need to       Insurance
deal with a stranding incident involving
marine mammals in the Falkland Islands. It       Falklands Conservation’s insurance
is intended to provide volunteer rescuers        cover extends only to volunteers directly
with the basic skills required to assess,        involved in events and conservation work
give first aid to and, where possible, refloat   organised and supervised by Falklands
stranded marine mammals.                         Conservation. It is essential that if
By following these instructions, volunteers      individuals organise their own events, or
should be able to:                               conduct their own practical conservation
                                                 work that they undertake an assessment

  	 Help	rescue	beached	marine	                  and take precautions to ensure their own
    mammals                                      safety, that of other people who may be

  	 Take	charge	of	a	group	of	volunteers		       involved, and if appropriate, the public.
  	 Give	instructions	in	basic		                 If in doubt, seek advice from Falklands
    first	aid	rescue	procedures                  Conservation.

  	 Assist	in	the	refloating	of	a		
    whale	or	dolphin.	
                                                 Training and Further
All members of the public are responsible
for their own safety throughout any
such rescue attempt. You should never            Much of the first aid advice in this leaflet
undertake any task unless you are trained        comes from the British Divers Marine
or feel confident to do so. Falklands            Life Rescue Marine Mammal Medic
Conservation can provide assistance,             course. For further information about this
equipment, advice and training and is            training in the Falklands contact Falklands
interested to hear of any stranding incident     Conservation on 22247, or visit the
in the Islands.                                  website www.bdmlr.org.uk for training
                                                 opportunities in the UK.

           Volunteers from Mount Pleasant undertaking Marine Mammal Medic Training
                              in the Falklands, 2002 (Alan Knight)
        Marine Mammals in Falkland Waters
        Species most likely to be encountered on           Basic topoGRaphY oF a cetacean
        Falkland shores are the Long-finned	Pilot	Whale,                         Fin   tail stock
        Killer	Whale, or Orca, Peale’s	Dolphin and         Blowhole

        Commerson’s	Dolphin.
        These species are of a size that may
        realistically be rescued. Whilst larger whales
        may strand from time to time the logistics                  pectoRal Fin     anus
                                                                                              tail Fluke
                                                                     oR FlippeR
        of a successful rescue are complicated and
        guidance should always be sought.

    Commerson's	Dolphin			              Peale's	Dolphin			                      Hourglas	Dolphin			
    Cephalorhynchus commersonii         Lagenorhynchus australis                Lagenorhynchus cruciger
    1·2–1·7 m                           1·7–2·2 m                               1·5–1·8 m

Southern	Bottlenose	Whale			               Long-finned	Pilot	Whale	(male)			
                                                                                           dolphins to scale
Hyperoodon planifrons                      Globicephala melas
6·0–7·5 m                                  male: 4·0–7·5 m, female 4·0–5·5 m

                                                                                                      Orca	(male)	 	
                                                                                                      Orcinus orca
                                                                                                     male: 7–10 m,
Southern	                                                                                            female 5–9 m
Right	Whale			
Eubalaena australis                                                                                              	
11–17 m                                                                                              Minke	Whale		
                Sei	Whale			                                                                         Balaenoptera
                Balaenoptera borealis                                                                 bonaerensis
                12–21 m                                                                                7·5–10·5 m

Fin	Whale			
Balaenoptera physalus
17–27 m

                                                    NB Whilst the left loWer jaW of a fiN Whale is
                                                    Black, the right is White iN colour
In the Event of a Stranding

Assessment                                      condition in many cases. Trauma may have
                                                occurred to the skin during a stranding.
The main reason for undertaking an              In some cases this can be significant and
assessment is to find out whether it is         where obvious deep muscle damage has
practical and humane to continue with           occurred this may well affect the final
a rescue attempt. Ideally a vet should          outcome, as will bleeding from blowhole,
be present when undertaking a full              mouth or anus. If these signs are seen, it
assessment of condition.                        is unlikely that any efforts to rescue the
                                                animal will be successful.
1. Alive or Dead
It can be difficult to determine whether a      3. Temperature and blood samples
stranded cetacean is alive or dead.             Without a vet present, it is impossible to
Simply watching the blowhole is not             use these parameters, however they can
always an exact indication, as large species    provide a ready way of assessing a terminal
can go several minutes between breaths          condition. No attempts should be made
while stranded. A reliable indicator can be     to refloat any animal whose deep rectal
obtained by checking for other reflexes.        temperature is 42°C or above. This can only
The easiest of these is simply to splash        be obtained using a specialist temperature
a few drops of seawater in the eyes and         probe and not a thermometer. Terminal
see if the eyelids respond. Exerting slight     sickness can also be indicated if the red
pressure on the eyelids if they are closed      blood cells of a sample taken with an anti-
can also elicit a reflex response. Finally,     coagulant separate out in about 10 minutes.
if no other response can be seen, gently        This may vary from species to species.
touching the surface of the eye will test       If the sample is very yellow, there may be
the corneal reflex. This should NOT be          severe liver damage. Whilst the layperson
attempted until all other reflexes are shown    should not undertake these steps, it may be
to be negative as it may elicit a violent       useful to draw them to the attention of a
response from a live animal.                    veterinary surgeon if they are present.

2. Body Condition                               4. Breathing rate
Is the animal obviously undernourished?         Breathing rates increase with stress.
Does it have a visible ‘neck’, and is there     As a rough guide, larger whales will breath
clear dipping in either side of the spine       anywhere between 1-20 breaths per 20
by the dorsal fin? Be aware that in larger      minutes. Smaller cetaceans and dolphins
animals it can be difficult to assess this      usually breath at a rate of 2-5 breaths
body condition out of the water. It should      per minute. Any increase in these rates
not be taken that fatter animals are healthy    indicates stress or respiratory compromise.
– they may have acute illness or trauma         Also be aware of strong smelling breath or
which is not immediately obvious, so do         discharge from the blowhole, which may
not base the entire assessment around this      be signs of respiratory disease. Never smell
factor. If possible and safe to attempt to do   the air coming directly from the blowhole
so, check the condition of teeth, as broken     as it can carry diseases.
and worn teeth can explain poor body
Report the incident to Falklands
Conservation on 22247 and the
Veterinary Department on 27366.
Leave your name and contact number.
Give details of the site, exact location and
apparent condition of the animals.
                                                          Staff and volunteers of Falklands Conservation
A Falklands Conservation representative
                                                               assess a mass Pilot Whale stranding
will attend whenever possible.                                    in the Falklands (Nic Huin 2003)

Recording what you do is vital.
                                                               	 If the temperature is below 40°C and the

Basic information needed for every                               state of health looks promising, a refloat
stranding includes:                                              attempt should be made.
   	 Species, number of animals and other

                                                               	 Keep the animal calm and reduce stress

     observation (size, condition, young etc)                    by talking soothingly and stroking gently.
   	 Time and date

                                                               	 Ensure noise levels are kept to a minimum.

   	 Location, by grid reference if possible
   	 Who is involved                                      REFLOATING AND IN THE WATER
   	 What actions are carried out
                                                               	 If the animal is healthy, attempt to

   	 If relevant, weather and tidal information
                                                                 refloat it.
   	 Any changes in the animal's condition,
                                                               	 Note species, size, colour, age, any

     including reflexes and discharges.
                                                                 distinguishing body markings and
                                                                 take photos if possible for future
         	 Is the animal dead or alive: is the

                                                               	 If possible, wait for the tide to come into

           condition of the animal clearly terminal?             the animal. If not possible, place the
         	 If alive, keep the animal wet, cool, upright

                                                                 animal on a stretcher or tarpaulin and
           and provide with shade from the sun.                  drag that to the water.
         	 Ensure the blowhole is kept clear.

                                                               	 NEVER drag the animal across the beach

         	 Ensure that scavenging birds are kept                 unprotected.
           away from the animal.
                                                               	 NEVER move by pulling the tail or flippers.

         	 Appoint a beach master. This should be

                                                               	 If rolling cetaceans, always fold the
           someone not necessarily involved in                   pectoral flippers downwards, then roll
           the physical rescue, but who can direct               onto one side to place mat underneath.
           proceedings.                                          Gently roll back the other way before
         	 Ensure the safety of any members of the

           public / tourists on site – prevent access
                                                               	 Once in the water, hold the animal and

           if necessary. Ensure all those involved at            allow it to reorientate itself.
           the scene are aware of dangers such as                Keep the blowhole clear of the water.
           proximity to animals, tides and avoiding
                                                               	 Rock the animal from side to side in the

           breath from the blowhole.                             water to alleviate stiffness.
                                                               	 Allow plenty of time. This may take

EXAMINATION AND FIRST AID                                        several hours.
         	 Every effort should be made to get a vet            	 In mass strandings, refloat those nearest


           on site to determine the animals state                to the sea first.
           of health. If deep rectal temperature is            	 Try and refloat all animals simultaneously.

           over 42°C, or the animal is unhealthy                 If strandings re-occur or a refloat is
           and diseased, it should be humanely                   not successful, the animal should be
           destroyed.                                            humanely destroyed.
First Aid                                        Refloating
Even where the condition of an animal is         1. Move the animal into the water.
terminal, it is humane to try and keep it           This can be done using either a
comfortable with these basic procedures             stretcher or tarpaulin to get the animal
until an authorised person can destroy it.          to the water, or simply wait for the tide.
Humane killing should only be carried out           Support the animal at waist depth with
by, or under the supervision of a veterinary        hands and towels used as slings.
surgeon.                                         2. Restore the animal’s equilibrium or
1. Keep the animal in the shade – erect             balance by rocking gently, as the tide
   temporary cover if possible to prevent           reaches a suitable depth. Ensure the
   wind and sun burn.                               blowhole is kept clear. This should be
                                                    maintained until the cetacean swims
2. Support the animal in an upright position
                                                    in an upright position without support.
   and dig trenches under the pectoral fins.
                                                    At this stage be aware of water depth
3. Cover the animal with wet sheets or              and don’t get so deep that it becomes
   towels. Keep it moist by spraying or             impossible to maintain your balance.
   dousing with seawater. Water should be           Never get beyond armpit depth.
   applied to the whole body, particularly
                                                 3. Watch for unusual signs once in the
   the rear half, as the tail can overheat
                                                    water. Is the animal showing any
   quickly. Do not use ice or very cold
                                                    twitches or tremors? Is there any
   water on either fins or flukes.
                                                    pronounced curving of the body?
4. Ensure the blowhole is kept clear at all         These are not good signs and should be
   times and avoid any water entering it.           monitored. Disorientation, listing and
5. Keep the margins of the blowhole                 inability to swim are all usual symptoms
   lubricated by using zinc oxide cream,            and not a cause for concern in the short
   lanolin or lubricating jelly.                    term.
6. If the weather is particularly cold,          4. Release the animal when it appears
   especially if the animal being dealt with        able to swim and support itself and is
   is malnourished or extremely young,              making efforts to do so. Guiding the
   erect a windbreak and soak sheets in             animal further out may be advisable
   liquid paraffin or mineral oil, baby oils        with divers or small boats if the
   or other oils which will not contain             stranding has occurred in a narrow
   harmful additives to try and retain body         necked harbour or bay.
   heat, rather than cold water.                 5. Monitor after release, by maintaining
                                                    a watch on the animal with binoculars,
                                                    or from small boats if possible and
                                                    along the stretch of coastline for as
                                                    long as possible. There is a high risk of
                                                    restranding up to 48 hours. If an animal
                                                    restrands immediately, it is unlikely
                                                    that it will be successfully refloated and
                                                    should be put down.

                                               Volunteer rescuers keeping a striped dolphin cool
                                                during a stranding at Whitley Bay in April 2006,
                                                     avoiding water entering the blowhole.
                                                              (Adrian Don, BDMLR)
                                                                   Falklands Conservation is
Equipment Checklist                                             happy to provide equipment
                                                                          wherever possible.

■	   Air mattress / foam matting or similar       ■	   Notebook and pencil
■	   Buckets                                      ■	   Radio or mobile phone
■	   Camera                                       ■	   Spade or shovel
■	   Change of clothes                            ■	   Sunblock
■	   Disinfectant, soap
                                                  ■	   Tarpaulin
■	   Disposable gloves
                                                  ■	   Tide information
■	   Drysuit
                                                  ■	   Torch and batteries
■	   First aid kit for humans
■	   Food / high energy snacks for workers        ■	   Towels and /or old sheets
■	   KY jelly, zinc oxide cream or Vaseline       ■	   Watering cans
■	   Life jackets                                 ■	   Windbreak / shade equipment
■	   Measuring tape                               ■	   Windproof clothing

                                 Equipment (Anna Shepherd 2006)

     	 Avoid	breath	from	the	blowhole		               	 Keep	a	close	eye	on	the	tide	to	

       –	it	contains	nasty	bacteria.                    ensure	safety	on	the	beach.
     	 Keep	clear	of	tail	and	fins,	especially	         Ensure	all	people	in	the	water	are	


       if	animal	is	active.                             monitored	at	all	times	by	someone	
       Cover	cuts,	grazes	or	other	open	                on	the	shore.

       skin	with	waterproof	plasters	                 	 Guard	against	hypothermia	and	

       before	coming	into	contact	with	the	             frostbite	in	cold	weathers.
       animal.	Disinfect	thoroughly	after	            	 Ensure	life	jackets	and,	in	rough	

       contact.                                         weather,	life-lines	are	worn	by	those	
     	 If	you	are	pregnant,	avoid	contact	              in	the	water.

       with	stranded	cetaceans.                         Don’t	get	too	deep	when	refloating.

Offers practical support and                           Falklands Conservation has worked
organises rescue of marine mammal                      to protect the wildlife of the Falkland
strandings in the Falkland Islands.                    Islands for over 25 years. Based in
Runs marine mammal medic                               Stanley, the charity now has over 600
training courses on East and West                      members worldwide, a flourishing
Falkland.                                              junior group and many volunteers.
Awards conservation grants for local                   The Falkland Islands are small and
wildlife projects                                      remote with limited resources but with
Has a well-stocked library of wildlife                 hugely important wildlife to protect.
and conservation literature for                        Falklands Conservation is heavily
reference                                              dependant on public support to fund
Provides advice on wildlife issues                     its conservation programmes. You can
Maintains a comprehensive Falkland                     help us by making a donation or by
Islands wildlife recording database                    becoming a member. We welcome
                                                       visitors to our offices in Stanley, or you
This leaflet is one in a series giving                 may find out more about us on our
guidance to our members, volunteers                    website (below).
and the public on a range of practical
conservation and wildlife issues produced              Copyright Falklands Conservation 2007.
with financial support from the Overseas               Researched and written by Becky Ingham
Territories Environment Programme.                     Designed by Rob Still @ Eye on the Ball Ltd

                    FALkLANDS CONSERvATION
                    Jetty	Visitor	Centre,	Stanley,	Falkland	Islands
                    Telephone	(+500)	22247;		Fax:		(+500)	22288			
                          e-mail:		info@conservation.org.fk
                Visit	our	website:		www.falklandsconservation.com
 cover:   Volunteers practice their skills using inflatable whales at a BDMLR training day. Photo BDMLR

    Falklands Conservation is a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales no 3661322,
   a Registered charity no 1073859 and registered as an Overseas Company in the Falkland Islands.
                  Registered office: 1 Princes Avenue, Finchley, London N3 2DA, UK

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