Mayo Live Stranding Course 2021

Live Stranding Course Mayo Local Group 2021

IWDG Stranding’s Officer Stephanie Levesque and IWDG Education and Outreach Officer Sibéal Regan teamed up with Live Stranding Responder Gemma O’Connor to deliver a live stranding course in Eachleim, Co. Mayo on September 18 2021.

A live stranding course for the Mayo local group was a top priority as due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group was forced to cancel the last course, which was scheduled for April 4, 2020. Taking the necessary precautions regarding COVID-19, we were finally able to safely deliver an in-person training course for the Mayo local group. There was a fantastic turnout for the event comprised of enthusiastic sea swimmers, surfers, and mayo locals, all interested in cetacean conservation and welfare.

Each stranding event is different and unique depending on the location of the stranding and the species involved. Responding to live stranding events especially mass strandings with two or more individual animals can be physically and emotionally demanding on members. That is why this course is designed to equip participants with all of the relevant knowledge on best practices and welfare policies regarding live stranded cetaceans.

Having the theoretical knowledge as well as reviewing past case studies of successful and unsuccessful events gives participants some insight into what it might be like if they were to respond to a live stranding after the course.

Mayo is a stranding hotspot with 486 records to date on the IWDG database. 74 of these records were live stranding events, with common dolphin being the predominant species live stranding. Gemma O’ Connor one of the Mayo local group coordinators and member of the stranding network has responded to some of these events in the last few years. She has extensive experience assessing and refloating common dolphins and her knowledge of the local area is next to none. Before starting the practical section of the course Gemma shared some of this knowledge with the group.

During the practical session all of the participants got stuck in conducting a body condition assessment on our dummy bottlenose dolphin and demonstrating the basic first aid steps they had just learned. Once the group decided this was a good candidate for refloating Gemma demonstrated how the dolphin trolly a new piece of equipment the local group purchased through a community fundraiser worked and everyone got to work carefully manipulating the dolphins weight onto the stretcher.

This exercise gives hands-on experience in re-floatation techniques and provides learners the space and time to ask questions, make mistakes and learn how best to handle a dolphin without injuring themselves or the animal.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the live stranding course and subsequently joined the stranding network. The more informed and trained personnel available to respond in the event of a stranding, increases the animal’s likelihood of being successfully refloated efficiently and safely.

More live stranding courses for IWDG’s other local groups are being scheduled as part of the education and outreach programme for early next year. If you would like to attend a training course and become a member of the stranding network please keep an eye on the IWDG social media platforms and our monthly ezine which is emailed out at the end of every month to members and subscribers.