Rescuing A Stranded Whale: 5 Safety Tips To Remember

Here’s what to do if you come across a Stranded Whale.

Sperm Whales Beached near Gibraltar Point in Skegness : Rescuing a stranded whale

Sperm Whales Stranded Near Gibraltar Point In Skegness (Photo: Reuters)

Whales are the largest mammals we have on Earth today. But though their natural habitat is in the water, they frequently beach themselves. Though scientists are still not completely clear on what causes this problem there are many factors that contribute to it.

For example, sea tides vary with time. Hence, a whale can be in a “high” tide only to get stranded when the waters recede. However, most studies indicate that whales swim to the shore themselves when they are sick or dying.

In addition, different species of whales are prone to stranding some more than others. Even very large ones like the sperm whale or even the blue whale are not exempted from this problem. But be that as it may, rescuing a stranded whale can be a very rewarding and exhilarating experience. Especially when the animal is safely back in the water and you see it swimming off.

If you are on a vacation on the beach and spot a stranded whale, it’s okay to get involved. But you must take care to do so in a way that doesn’t endanger you or the animal.

There are steps to follow to rescue a stranded whale.

Safety Tips For Rescuing A Stranded Whale.

1) Call for help immediately.

As with any rescue mission, calling for help before you do anything is the first step. Contact the local police or beach guard as they would know exactly who to contact or what to do. Check your maps for local rescue teams and contact them.

Note down details of the animal and its location in order to give correct and in-depth details to help the experts come with the correct equipment and in time.

2) Ensure Your Safety As Well As The Whale’s

Be very careful as you approach. Remember that diseased whales, just like any other sea mammals, can transfer infections to humans.

It is never a good idea to try helping the whale when you are alone: anything could go wrong. You will require assistance, recruit some people to help in the process. Both human and whale safety are of utmost concern at this point.

If you are all alone it is advisable to stay away from the animal. Whales are strong and muscular, a strike from its tail can cause massive injuries to those close by.

Whales breathe through a blow-hole on top of their body. Check to ensure it is not blocked or under water. If the blow-hole is blocked, remove the debris with care and roll the whale to lie on its belly.

Soak towels in sea water and spread them on the whale’s body to keep it moist. If the whale is in direct sunlight, build a shade over it to protect from sunburns. Any contact with the whale’s body, including the dousing towels, should be cleaned with water and detergent afterwards to prevent contamination to humans. Or better still dispose of them completely after the rescue.

3) Do Not Try To Force The Stranded Whale Back Into The Water

Diseased or dying animals could have sustained injuries as they tried to swim back into the water especially in a low-tide/high-tide situation. Pulling or dragging the whale is a big no! This can aggravate injuries or create new ones.

Just keep the whale moistened and cool then wait for the local experts to arrive with specialized equipment to get the animal back to sea.

Remember that this is an animal that is several times your size and bulk. Any sudden movements could be disastrous for you.

4) Help The Whale To Relax

A stranded whale is a stressed whale. It’s in an unfamiliar environment, probably sick and injured.

Calm is essential in ensuring the animal does not get more stressed. If it becomes too agitated it may see you as a problem and try to defend itself. Sometimes, they begin to trash about as they feel you want to harm them. Therefore ensure you keep well away its tail and its head to avoid it lashing out at you.

Any noise should be minimal and keep pets (especially barking dogs) away to help the animal relax. People will gather around the spot, ensure they keep some distance and keep their voices low to facilitate the whales calm.

5) Expect Sudden Movement When A Stranded Whale Is Back In The Water

When the whale is successfully back in the water you still need to be extra vigilant because chances are it could make a sudden and unexpected movement.

For instance, in a recent accident that was later described as a “freak incident, “ a Canadian lobster fisherman was struck by a whale shortly after he helped free it from a net. The whale made a sudden flip and struck the man right in his boat. Unfortunately the man, identified as Joe Howlett, died instantly.

For this reason be ready to move back quickly if you follow the whale into the water.

There are international agencies all around the world that are tasked with ensuring marine life safety and are experts in this kind of thing.  You can learn more by getting in touch with them especially if you live an area prone to whale stranding.

 

References:

1. http://www.wikihow.com/Save-a-Stranded-Dolphin

2. https://www.gov.uk/report-stranded-whale-dolphin

3. http://uk.whales.org/issues/what-to-do-if-you-find-live-stranded-whale-or-dolphin

4. http://www.crru.org.uk/stranded.asp

5. http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/11/man-killed-by-whale-after-he-rescued-it-from-fishing-net-6772263/

Photo Credits:

Reuters News Agency

 

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