White beaked dolphin mass stranding

At around 7am on Monday 5 June, we were alerted to a pair of white-beaked dolphins stranded on the beach at Tiger Hill near Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. There were several members of the public with the animals who were offered advice from our hotline coordinator on how they could help while our rescue team was mobilised. 

The dolphins were very stressed and their breathing rate was worryingling high, both animals were stranded on their sides and were showing signs of severe stress. However, the dolphins appeared to be of an adult age and without any major visible trauma, so as soon as our Marine Mammal Medic team arrived they set to work on getting the animals upright and reducing their breathing rate with the hope of being able to return them to the sea. 

The dolphins were made comfortable on the beach and protected from the elements while a full health assessment was carried out by a veterinarian, where the animals were considered in good condition and we were given the go ahead to return them to the water. 

While these two dolphins were being returned to the water, a report came in via HM Coastguard of a third dolphin partially stranded further along the beach, which was being supported by three members of the public. The dolphin had only been stranded for a short amount of time, so after a brief assessment to cause as little stress as possible on the animal, it too was returned to the sea. 

The entire rescue was not without difficulties and two of the dolphins unfortunately restranded before a second attempt to refloat was made, but eventually all three animals were out to sea and at around 7.45pm, the last of our volunteers left the beach.

White-beaked dolphins are a pelagic species known to be regular visitors around the Scottish coast, they are often seen in small to large groups and have been known to associate with other cetacean species. 

We would like to thank the residents and visitors of Fraserburgh for their support and initial reports, Buchan Veterinary Clinic, HM Coastguard, RNLI, the Fire & Rescue Service, and of course all of our Marine Mammal Medics for working together to help us save these dolphins.

Photos: Walter Innes.