Mass Strandings on the West Coast - Update!

13th May 2003 'I just thought I'd drop you a line to update the Ventry story from last week. The news item on your website leaves the story unfinished...

I found the three dolphins at about 10.00am just after the morning high tide at the very western end of Ventry beach, an area called Cuan. We often find dead dolphins and the odd pilot whale washed up, but even from a distance I could see that these were alive. Getting up close it was clear that in fact the middle of the three was dead (but still warm) and that the other two were clearly breathing, but extremely stressed.

I had no 'phone and there was nobody else on the beach, so I decided to stay with them and see what could be done as the tide was now going out rapidly. I turned the two live ones around and got them out into 1-2 feet of water, thinking they might both swim off, but they both seemed very weak and were keeling over on to their sides, leaving me thinking they might then drown. I moved them into slightly shallower water and then went to get help by calling a man living locally, Chips Chipperfield, and the Dingle Oceanworld.

Back on the beach, by now it was about 11.00 am, Chips arrived with his partner Irene and son Mattie. We refloated one dolphin and it seemed to swim quite well for a while before stranding again amongst rocks at the end of the beach. Eventually it freed itself and was once again in the water. The second dolphin swam tilted to the right and kept coming back to shore.

At this point, TJ from Oceanworld arrived with his wet suit and coaxed this second one much further out and it too seemed to swim freely. Talking to him, however, he said that once stranded the dolphins often do not survive.

By this time we were frozen and went home, but I rang UCC the next day and Emer Rogan said that they had picked up the dead one for their research and that it was a Common Dolphin.

The event got me looking at your website again, which I had consulted last year, and I sent in my 19 euro to join!!

Hope this is of some help to you.

All the best.

David Chippendale


Note from the Editor: We'd like to congratulate David, Chips & family and TJ. for doing their best to help these dolphins.

It might help others to highlight a few points regarding such rescues...

- Dolphins can survive quite a considerable time out of water so there is not an immediate rush to get them back in. The first step is to stabilise the animals in an upright position, digging hollows foir their pectoral fins (flippers).

- Once the animals are stabilised then you can take a bit of time to prepare yourself and to contact the IWDG for help. (As David points out if you enter the water unprepared you will end up freezing and may place yourself in danger). Try and have someone stand by the dolphins while you go for help.

- David mentioned the odd swimming behaviour of the dolphins. This is due to cramping, stress and disorientation suffered by the dolphins while beached. When re-introduced to the water dolphins should be supported with their blowhole out of the water (best achieved using a blanket to carry the animal) and gently rocked until an improvement is noticed. This may take anything from half an hour to several hours and obviously will require people in wet/dry suits or chest waders.

- Further details of what to do and who to contact are available on our strandings pages.


All strandings (dead or alive) should be reported to the national strandings database Email: strandings@iwdg.ie with the following:

- description of animal (markings etc)

- precise location

- length

- sex (if known)

- photos (if taken)

- contact e-mail/phone number

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The second mass stranding of common dolphins in four days occurred this morning (7th May) on Ventry beach, Co Kerry. According to Kevin Flannery, local IWDG contact, three dolp