Mass dolphin stranding on Anglesey – Scuba Diver Mag

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British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Marine Mammal Medics were hard at work yesterday (Wednesday 31 January), responding to a mass stranding of six common dolphins on Cemaes Bay on Anglesey.

The BDMLR team, assisted by Milfeddygon Bodrwnsiwn Veterinary Group, Cemaes Bay Coastguard Search and Rescue Team, a team from RAF Valley and members of the public, spent the day tending to the animals, four adults and two juveniles.

Common dolphins are a gregarious species found in abundance especially along the west
coast of the UK. They can reach two and a half metres and weigh up to 150kg. Mass strandings may occur for a number of reasons, including an ill or injured member of a group being followed by the
others into danger, human activity, or simply by becoming disoriented in unfamiliar habitat
such as intertidal estuarine environments.

dolphin
Two of the common dolphins stranded on Cemaes Bay beach

Part of the response to a stranding is to carefully assess these various factors in relation to the animal’s health and behaviour to determine why they may have beached, as this can affect how the incident is managed.

The BDMLR team carried out a health check of each individual animal as best they could, as
the incoming tide began refloating them soon after their arrival. Generally they appeared to
be in good health except one with an old healed wound where it had lost its dorsal fin some
time ago, which appeared to be underweight and struggled in the water once they were
swimming again.

The pod was monitored by volunteers from the safety of the shore and a vet attended the
scene. Two dolphins disappeared in the early afternoon on high tide and could not be
located, while the remaining four stayed close to shore.

dolphin
Some of the dolphins as they headed out into deeper waters

At around 4.40pm, as the team became anxious they would restrand on the outgoing tide, so a few Medics in personal protective equipment entered the shallows to help redirect them out to open water. The group finally turned seaward and headed out of sight into deeper water shortly afterwards.

Sadly, this morning (Thursday 1 February), one of the pair of dolphins that disappeared earlier on in the
incident was sadly found deceased nearby. It will be collected for a post mortem examination
by the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme.

The BDMLR team is remaining on standby in case the others run into further difficulty.

Photo credit: BDMLR

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