West Cork Striped dolphin euthanased

5th Nov 2010 The day began with a call from Clonakilty Garda station to say that they had received a report of a stranded dolphin at Long strand, Nr. Ownahincha. Before long the phone was ringing off the wall with calls from others within the IWDG's network of local observers.

It seemed that the dolphin, identified as a sub-adult male striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba was well above the high water mark and had a nasty injury on its tail stock. Before long Clare Pollock of Cork Ecology and Ciaran Cronin of Wildeye were on the scene to take some pressure off others who had stayed with the sticken animal, keeping the gulls from inflicting further damage to its gaping wound. The mammal was made as comfortable as it could in this alien environment. In the meantime we contacted both Cork County Council Vet, Dan Crowley and Faxbridge Veterinary practice in Clonakilty, both of whom have attended to local live strandings in the past.

As always, the facts were weighed up and alternatives considered, but when faced with a dolphin carrying a serious wound that extended to its bowel, with an excessive breathing rate of 16 breaths per minute (c6 would be normal), and an angry sea which offered no hope of a refloat, there simply was no alternative. When Vet, Mary Farmer arrived with Veterinary nurse Ann Marie Moyles we offered our considered opinion that euthanasia was the best and only viable option. After an inspection by the Vet, an initial dose of 70 ml of Euthatol was administered into the peritoneal cavity and we stayed with the animal during its final terrestrial moments.

In all it took 7-10 minutes before we could confirm the dolphin was dead, but we can at least be satisfied that its suffering ended once the dosage was administered. It's not much consolation, given that we prepare, perhaps naively, for live strandings in the vain hope that the outcome may be more satisfactory....but it's not about us and our egos, it's about the animal and its suffering.

The dolphin now deceased and reduced to an item of hazardous waste was partially buried and directions given to Cork County Council local engineers office and Veterinary office so they could arrange for its safe disposal. So this magnificent striped dolphin becomes another statistic as the 78th validated stranding event on the Irish coastline in 2010.

I don't mind if it's the last live-stranding I ever get a call out to. But the whole situation was summed up nicely for me by a West Cork farmer during the live stranded fin whale incident in Courtmacsherry last year, and I quote: "....when you have livestock, you have dead stock". Never a truer sentiment was spoken. And so one can only assume, that the next such event is only a phone call away.

A huge thanks to the following IWDG members and locals for their input: Clonakilty Gardai, Doris May, Clare Polllock & Colin Barton of Cork Ecology, Ciaran Cronin, Wildeye (see images), Abi Brewer and those whose names we've omitted. Lastly a special thank you to Mary Farmer and Ann Marie Moyles of Faxbridge Veterinary clinic in Clonakilty for attending this emergency and doing what was required.

Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator

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