Orkney Risso’s Dolphins

On Monday, 13th of May, British Divers Marine Life Rescue was alerted to two Risso’s dolphins near the village of village of Burray, in Orkney, Scotland. Medics on the island responded to monitor the dolphins and found two animals of similar size, exhibiting normal behaviour. However one appeared to be lethargic and underweight, spending more time logging at the surface. After some time monitoring, it appeared that the pair had gone back out to sea.

Medics continued to monitor the animals over the following days and on Saturday, 18th of May, they were seen again by a member of public spotting them close to shore. Medics again responded and with both animals now at risk of stranding as the tide fell, the weaker of the two appeared to have deteriorated badly and did restrand briefly at low tide but refloated just as kit and a vet arrived on scene; observed as being assisted by the second animal who was attempting to push it back into deeper water. At this point they relocated back to their original location where the healthy animal was again seen to be stopping the weaker individual from stranding. They remained here all day on Sunday 19 May.

On Monday 20 May, Medics checked the situation and found that the healthy animal had disappeared overnight. The other dolphin was 3 metres from shore hanging low in the water and struggling to maintain itself upright. After consultation with veterinary experts the decision was made to euthanise the dolphin on welfare grounds and sadly has now been passed to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS) near Inverness for full necropsy. 

We would like to extend our deepest thanks to the Medics in Orkney, the residents who supported Medics on site in both St Margaret’s Hope and at Burray and kept them going with supplies of tea, biscuits and some amazing cake! It was very much appreciated on a dull and chilly weekend. We would also like to thank Flett & Carmichael vets for their continued support and swift response on Monday.