Saturday, August 4, 2012

Stranded marine mammal rescue guidelines

Indonesia has been experiencing many cetacean stranding events lately that I think a post on how to rescue stranded cetaceans might be useful. I adopt and modify the list from the Australian Whales Alive and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group web pages.

·         Alert the local authorities. Usually, they are either the Balai KSDA (Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam – the Nature and Conservation Agency) or Dinas Kelautan dan Perikanan (Marine and Fisheries Affairs). Some marine non-profit organisations such as WWF, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and Reef Check are usually ready to help.

·         Bring lots of tarpaulins or clothes to cover the animals’ skins. Buckets to carry water and strong ropes to assist the hauling will be useful too, so are Vaseline (for the animals), sunblock (for you) and hats (for you and friends).

·         On site, meet the local authorities and local village leaders. Decide who is doing what; but keep it quick and practical.

·         Keep the animals upright (instead of upside down).

·         Cover the animal(s)’s skin with tarpaulins or wet clothes. Cover their skin with Vaseline if any.

·         Do not cover their blowhole with water, clothes or non-irritant Vaseline for the animals need unblocked blowhole to breathe.

·         If the animal(s) is relatively small, try to position it towards the ocean. Do not pull the flippers for you might break them. 

·         If possible, use gloves when handling the animals for it will reduce the risk of disease transfer.

·         Do not inhale the animal’s expired air.

·         Do not stay at the rear end, lest you may receive a sharp blow from the fluke (trust me, it’s unpleasant). 

·         If you must, utilise a boat or two to haul the animals back to the sea. While waiting for the boat, keep the animal’s skin wet. 

·         If possible, avoid using rope to haul the animals back to the sea for it will hurt the animals. Instead, use a sling, canvas or small tarpaulins to lift or drag the animals to the water.

·         When hauling the animals (in the stretcher/sling) back to the sea, never separate the mother from her calf (you can identify a calf by its size; usually 2/3 of a mature animal). If the mother returns to the sea first, she might try to go back to the beach to save her calf, rendering your effort futile.

·         Haul the stretcher/sling containing the animal far offshore enough so that the chance of the re-stranding is small enough. Stay there until you are certain that the whales/dolphins are not returning back (or until the sun sets).

   Pic: Ha. Ha. Ha. From casualfurday

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