Learn how to help seals, dolphins and whales

A number of seal pups become stranded around the Western Isles each year.
A number of seal pups become stranded around the Western Isles each year.

THE chance to learn how to help stranded seals, whales and dolphins is available next weekend as British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) are running a course in South Uist for anyone interested in helping stranded marine animals.

Taking place on Saturday, May 21, the course trains people in the first aid and safe re-floatation of whales, dolphins and porpoises using specialised equipment and the first aid and rescue of abandoned seal pups; including their transport to the BDMLR Highland Seal Hospital in Caithness or other rehabilitation centres across the UK.

It will also provide information to help with the rescue of marine turtles and oiled birds.

The course runs from 9.30am until 5pm and is split into two sessions – the morning covering marine mammal biology, species ID, physiology, first aid, assessment and rescue techniques; the afternoon consisting of three practical exercises using life sized water filled models of a seal pup, a Common dolphin and a Pilot whale.

During the first exercise, participants will be shown how to safely handle, assess and lift seal pups; the second how to handle, lift and apply first aid techniques for dolphins; and in the third exercise participants will be shown how to re-float a two tonne Pilot whale model using special re-flotation pontoons.

No previous experience is required, just a willingness to help. Drysuits or wetsuits are required to do the course, but thanks to the kindness of the local surf school – SurfLewis – a loan of a wetsuit can be arranged in advance for the day.

It is also planned to arrange carshares for those travelling down from Lewis and Harris.

For more information, got to www.bdmlr.org.uk/index.php?page=training-course or email local volunteer Sandy MacDonald on sandy@bdmlr.org.uk