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River Dee dolphin rescued as porpoise stranded by Tower Bridge


Museum experts have been called to a Thames porpoise stranding in the centenary year of a cetacean strandings project.

A dolphin seen swimming in the River Dee in Wales a week ago has successfully been rescued and redirected back to the sea.

The female dolphin was probably chasing fish in high tides to feed on them, when it got lost.

It briefly got stuck on sandbanks before being rescued by coast guards from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), who hoisted it into a lifeboat on a stretcher and released it back into the sea.

Dolphin íluckyí to survive

Museum cetacean strandings officer Molly Clery said it was very lucky because if it hadnít have been rescued, it would very likely have died.

Dolphins need deep salt water to find food and this dolphin had already become ill after several days in fresh water.

The Museum is currently involved with another reported stranding on the Thames embankment by Tower Bridge. The animal in question appears to be a harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena.

Unfortunately the animal has already perished.

There are around 300 cases of porpoise strandings along UK coasts every year.

In 2006, a18-foot whale became stranded in the River Thames and died after a massive rescue attempt.
Museum commemorates 100 years of UK stranding project

The Museumís strandings project is part of the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme. This year the Museum will commemorate 100 years of monitoring stranded whales and dolphins.

Museum staff collect the bodies of stranded ceteceans and take them for post-mortem examination to discover cause of death, as well as monitoring levels of disease, toxins and pollutants and parasites.

Itís not always clear why animals get lost and become stranded but it is usually because of disease or noise pollution that causes distress or disorientation.

The porpoise recently found in the Thames will help provide data on how porpoise populations are changing.

A day-long Museum conference, A Century of Strandings, takes place on 20 September in the Flett Theatre.


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