I received a phonecall from the BBC shortly after 12pm, telling me about a stranded dolphin on Traigh Shanndaigh, the beach in Eoropie. Off I went, armed with my camera, to see what the situation was.
The beach isn’t accessible by vehicle, so we had to walk/run maybe 1/4 mile to get there (my brother Innes was with me).
There were a few people about, and one local, Shona Morrison, told me that the vet, SSPCA and British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) had all been informed. The dolphin had more than likely been on the beach since high tide on Wednesday night, maybe 11ish pm. No obvious injuries but it seemed to be exhausted, as you would probably guess.
Trevor from BDMLR was first on site and started thinking about how it would get refloated, although decision on the welfare of the animal was to be the vet’s decision. Hector, the vet, wasn’t far off. Experienced in this situation (he mentioned dealing with 7 or 8 Sperm Whale strandings), his first reaction was that the sea was far too rough to consider releasing an exhausted dolphin into the breaking waves. After examining the dolphin, a male White Beaked Dolphin, it was considered to be in poor condition. There was some discussion about moving it to Port of Ness harbour, to release it there, but the stress would probably have been too much for it. The fact that the dolphin was on the high water mark was another indication that it was more than likely sick or injured and that it was washed ashore, rather than stranded. The only option was euthanasia and by the time Hector had returned with the necessary equipment, the dolphin seemed to have given up the ghost and was fading fast – in my opinion.
Sad end to a lovely animal. First time I’ve been as close to a live one.
Here is a video of what happened.