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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 October, 2004, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Training to reduce whale deaths
Rubber whale: British Divers Marine Life Rescue
The model is sometimes mistaken for a real whale by the public
A two-tonne rubber whale is being used to train vets in an attempt to reduce the number of whale and dolphin deaths off south-west England.

The vets' training is carried out by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) at Looe in Cornwall.

It includes lifesaving techniques and the lifting and handling of injured or beached animals.

If a whale or dolphin is stranded, vets and nurses must ensure it can breathe through its blowhole, and is kept wet.

Euthanasia

The BDMLR also used life-size models of dolphins.

The models are filled with water to make them as life-like as possible.

The size and weight of the models allow vets to experience the difficulties of manoeuvring such large animals.

The BDMLR says during training it is not unusual to have members of the public offer to help as they believe the whale is real.

But James Barnet, a consultant vet for the BDMLR says even with training there are difficult decisions to be made at times.

He said: "Once a mammal hits the beach, its condition will start to deteriorate quite rapidly.

"For us it's really a question of trying to stabilise the animal and then weigh up whether it's suitable for getting back out to sea quickly.

"We also have to consider whether it should be humanely put to sleep."




SEE ALSO:
Dolphin ambulance to begin work
09 Jul 04  |  Scotland
Minke whale 'facing death'
11 Aug 03  |  Wales


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