Dolphin live-strands in Lahinch, Co Clare

2nd Jan 2009 A striped dolphin live stranded in Lahinch this morning and was euthanased. It was first reported to the Lahinch Coastguard at 9:30am after being found by locals taking their dog for a walk.

The IWDG were informed at around 10:30am and Simon Berrow immediately travelled to the site to determine its prognosis. Local Coastguard Ciaran Meehan had attempted to refloat the animal but it had re-stranded immediately and was very sluggish in the water.

On arrival at the scene, Simon Berrow immediately assessed the dolphin as unsuitable for refloating as the animal was in very poor condition and had been sick for some time. This was determined by the number of lesions on the dolphin's body and the whale lice infestation on these lesions. These parasites can only colonise slow moving cetaceans and are unlikely to attach to a healthy animal.

Two options were available, let the dolphin die naturally on the beach or euthanasia. As there was a steady stream of people traveling along the beach to see the dolphin, and often accompanied by dogs, it was decided that this would cause the animal more stress and the best option was euthanasia.

Local vet John Underhill from Ennistymon was contacted and he immediately travelled to the scene and administered 20cc of pentabarbitone into the peritoneal cavity. The dolphin uttered a few squeaks and other vocalisations before dying around two minutes after the drug was administered.

Although typically a warm temperate water dolphin, common in the Mediterranean Sea, striped dolphins are frequently stranded in Ireland and often alive. The first mass stranding of this species occurred in Co Mayo in 2007.

The IWDG would like to thank Lahinch Coastguard, especially Ciaran Meehan, Colm from the local gardai and John Underhill for all their assistance on the beach.

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