GETTING involved with rescuing stranded marine life is on offer in Ullapool later this month as the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) charity are holding a Marine Mammal Medic course on Saturday, March 23rd.
The course involves a morning classroom session studying the animals and practicalities of a rescue, followed by an afternoon practical at the sea-shore carrying out a simulated rescue on a seal, dolphin and whale.
And whilst the stranded animals are dummies – designed to replicate the actual size and weight of real animals – they are so realistic that when a similar course was held in Ullapool last year members of the public came to the beach volunteering to assist in the rescue!
Although the course is fun and informative, there are serious and vital elements within as, in the last two years through four incidents BDMLR have dealt with 229 individual Pilot whales in Scotland alone.
A major incident in Durness in 2011 saw over 60 whales beach on sand banks. And the shortage of trained medics in the Highlands meant that help had to be sought from as far afield as Newcastle.
And as it is estimated that almost 70% of Europe’s dolphins, whales and porpoises pass through the Minches, it is extremely important that people are not only available, but also prepared to help in the event of a stranding.
On completion of the BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic course, attendees will receive a medic card that identifies them as a trained assistance and can register to join a volunteer scheme to assist in rescues in their area.
BDMLR groups are being founded in Inverness, Caithness and Sutherland, Wester Ross and the Outer Hebrides, and funding is currently being sought to set up rescue teams around the coastline. For further information about the group, rescues, training and how to help can be found online at www.bdmlr.org.uk