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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 January 2006, 12:18 GMT
First animal rescue boat launched
There are many marine strandings in the region each year
The South West's first rescue boat solely for marine animals was launched in Cornwall on Saturday.

The 20,000 vessel, funded by charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), is dedicated to saving animals like dolphins and seals.

The 5.8m RIB has been paid for through fund-raising and donations and is fitted with the latest equipment.

The boat is named Josh, who was the son of BDMLR member Jim Hayes and died last year after a long illness.

Inaccessible locations

BDMLR chairman Alan Knight, who delivered the boat to Penzance for Saturday's launch, said: "Cornwall and Devon receive a high number of stranded dolphins, seals and other marine mammals each year.

"We have decided to station the RIB in the region to improve our response to these incidents."

The boat will be used to get medics into otherwise inaccessible locations to attend strandings and will also act as a safety boat during incidents and help when a pontoon system is used to refloat large whales.

BDMLR was formed by a group of divers in 1988 in response to the deaths of a large number of seals in the Wash area of East Anglia and now provides a 24-hour rescue service and trains over 300 marine mammal medics every year.

BDMLR has five other rescue boats round the UK, stationed in the south east, north east and Scotland.

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