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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 April, 2005, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Rubber whale helps train rescuers
Tom Bourton
By Tom Bourton
BBC News website


If you went down to the beach on Saturday, you might have had a big surprise, as volunteers struggled with a life-size rubber whale.

The 30-strong team was using the two-tonne model to learn how to rescue mammals which become stranded on the coastline.

As well as the rubber pilot whale, they also worked with inflatable versions of a seal and a dolphin.

The course took place at Southerndown Beach, near Bridgend, south Wales.

Tony Woodley, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), said they were running the course as they were keen to boost the number of volunteers they had in the area.

We have had a few incidents in the last year - we are surrounded by coastline, so it is a risk in the area
Helen Baker

"We train people all around the coastline so if we get a stranded seal or porpoise, we can call on them," he said.

"We have a couple of strandings a year in Wales, but they are quite sporadic."

"We have around four co-ordinators in Wales and about 40-50 volunteers," he added.

One of the volunteers, Nick Jones from Swansea, said he was keen to get involved.

"I have dealt with a few seals through work with the RSPCA, and am willing to play more of a part in the future," he said.

Training (Picture from British Divers Marine Life Rescue)
More than 300 people are trained up each year

The training took the form of lectures in the morning in Cowbridge, followed by practical sessions in the afternoon at Southerndown Beach.

Claire Rowberry, who lives in Cardiff, said the lectures had been interesting.

"They went through the basics of how to approach stranded animals, awareness of what to do and how to refloat them," she said.

Helen Baker, 29, from Maesteg, was helping out on the course after qualifying as a mammal medic last year.

"There are not many medics here, so it is a nice way to get people involved," she said.

"We have had a few incidents in the last year - we are surrounded by coastline, so it is a risk in the area."

BDMLR was set up in 1988, and runs a 24-hour rescue service for stranded mammals.

It trains more than 300 marine mammal medics each year.

Whale stranding cases 'increase'
09 Mar 05 |  Science/Nature
Stranded whale back at sea
27 Sep 04 |  Mid
Expert help in whale stranding
25 Sep 04 |  South East Wales

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