RESCUE Locals and volunteers working hard to get one of the dolphins back safely in the water. (Pic courtesy of Tommy English.)
Locals and volunteers get three exhausted adult dolphins and a young calf safely back into the sea at Keem
Four stranded dolphins were successfully rescued and returned to the sea off Achill Island today (Tuesday). The mammals, which were described as distressed and exhausted, were found by members of the public this morning.
The four common dolphins were discovered alive but in difficulty around 11am on the sand on Keem beach. A fifth mammal was also discovered, but was unfortunately found lying dead on the rocks.
A number of local volunteers initially went to the beach to try to rescue the surviving dolphins, but the low tide and lack of appropriate clothing made it difficult to successfully return the much-loved mammals to the sea.
Sorsha Kennedy, a local volunteer with Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland was called to help, and with the assistance of David McNamara of the Achill Coast Guard Unit, and they eventually returned all the live dolphins to the water around 1pm.
Speaking to The Mayo News Ms Kennedy explained that they place a towel under the dolphins and were able to carry them passed the breaking waves. She said she wearing a wet suit and was able to wade out into deeper water and encourage the dolphins out into the sea away from the shore.
“There were three adults and one baby among them, and they seemed to have been stranded for a long time because they were exhausted. The dead dolphin was on the rocks, so they must have come in at high tide and by the time I arrived it was low tide. They seemed to be very tired, and I don’t think they would have lasted much longer.
“One of the adults kept coming back onto the shore, and we were worried it was too weak to swim out to sea. Luckily he turned around a took off out to sea … it was great to see the four dolphins successfully returned to the water. It was nice to be able to be in the water with them, and hopefully they will be fine and don’t become stranded again,” she said.
The stranding of dolphins on Achill beaches are not uncommon, but by the time they are discovered they are normally too weak to return to the sea. Sorsha explained that there can be many reasons for the stranding of dolphins, adding that it was very rewarding to see them survive this time.
The dead dolphin is to be collected by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and will be brought to their headquarters in Cork. They are due perform a postmortem to try to identify the cause of death.