Successful refloat of two common dolphins

On Wednesday 5 July 2023, two dolphins stranded near Monifieth on the north coast of the Firth of the Tay. The dolphins were initially spotted in shallow water, but as the tide receded, they became fully stranded on the sand.

Workmen nearby provided photos of the animals, revealing them to be two adult common dolphins, and our Rescue Coordinators gave them initial first aid advice over the phone in order to keep the dolphins from drying out and to reduce their stress levels until our Marine Mammal Medics arrived.

Upon assessment following our Medics’ arrival, the animals were determined to be in fair body condition with normal breathing and no visible injuries apart from some old ‘rake’ marks (teeth marks from other dolphins). This, in combination with the fact that the dolphins’ appeared to be calm due to their relaxed breathing rates, meant that the decision was made to attempt a refloat.

With assistance from the HM Coastguard and Broughty Ferry lifeboat, our Medic team safely carried the dolphins one by one back to the sea to readjust them into the water. The tide came rushing in over the sandflats so both animals were soon swimming in around a metre of water. Due to the number of sandbanks in the area, the dolphins occasionally became stuck again, but managed to strongly free themselves every time. As the tide increased further, the dolphins eventually swam out of sight to open water.

We’d like to thank HM Coastguard and Broughty Ferry lifeboat for their support, the members of the public for their patience and cooperation, and of course, our Medics for all their hard work. Working together as a team ensured that the suffering of these dolphins was to a minimum leading to a successful outcome.

If you ever encounter a dolphin, whale or porpoise close to shore or stranded on the beach:

  • Call our rescue hotline to report it and for advice on what to do next – 01825 765546 (option 1)
  • Keep a safe distance, keep noise to a minimum and keep all dogs on leads
  • Do NOT touch or attempt to move the animal – cetaceans often carry zoonotic diseases/viruses which are transmissible to humans

You can find out more on ‘what to do if you find…’ here.

Photos: Megan Reith.