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Harbour Porpoise at Heacham South on Christmas Eve

24th December 2002

Kieran Copeland,

The last chance for Christmas shopping was wrecked for a few
medics in the Anglian region when at about midday on Christmas Eve,
the RSPCA passed a call for a stranded porpoise to myself.
Duane Kirk a newly qualified Medic, Helen Knott - Medic and Marine
Conservation Society Heacham Co-ordinator and
Lucie White - National Co-ordinator for the BDMLR also responded.
On arrival we found a bystander patiently walking up and down the
beach collecting water to keep the animal wet. Fortunately he had
done everything right and his only comment was
'Well I've seen flipper'.
He continued to assist us until leaving and going home to go and get
hanged only to then re-emerge to see how we were getting on.

The porpoise was moved further up the beach after the local coastguard team arrived keeping the public at bay. The coastguard vehicle was then parked to act as a windbreak which not only made the porpoise more comfortable but also us!! Our crew remained on scene keeping the porpoise comfortable, Steve from East Winch then arrived to further assess. Steve agreed with the conclusion that our team had made and unfortunately the porpoise was euthanased. The porpoise had several lesions all over her body, some of which were fresh, probably caused from thrashing around on the beach and some old wounds that looked quite badly infected with some sort of virus. We are awaiting the results of the post mortem which I am very keen to see as I have never seen lesions like this porpoise had.

A well done to all medics concerned, an
excellently executed stranding but unfortunately a
bad result. This is now the second stranding in
this area within the last month both of which had
a negative result but in saying this, both were
porpoises and the first literally died as the team
arrived - well done to Angela - Displays Curator
at Gt. Yarmouth Sea Life and Chris Brown,
another Marine Mammal Medic and a Displays
Supervisor for the Sea Life group.

This latest stranding also showed how well so many different organisations pulled together; BDMLR, The RSPCA, Sea Life, HM Coastguard and an off duty Fireman all responded to try to help the porpoise.

It just goes to show how having teams of dedicated people all over the country can give an extremely fast response to these stranded animals, either refloating or ending a slow and painful death, we can all be proud.

Kieran Copeland,
Anglian Co-ordinator, British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue is an international marine animal rescue organisation. UK based and a registered Charity. The aims of the organisation are to provide a rescue service for all marine wildlife, to provide support to all existing rescue centres and to develop new methods of treatment, transport and care.