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Life-sized whale and dolphin dummies used to train rescuers in the Highlands

Training under way in Ullapool.
Training under way in Ullapool.

A group of marine medics in the Highlands have been training volunteers to rescue whales, dolphins and seals.

Members of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) hosted a training day at Ullapool jetty on Sunday.

They taught volunteers how to use techniques and equipment ranging from towels and tarpaulins to specialised rescue pontoons to help stranded or injured animals and assist them back out to sea.

Life-sized dummy whales and dolphins were brought in to help recreate real life rescue scenarios.

Dummy whales and dolphins were used in the training

New members on board

The team of BDMLR members based in Ullapool have struggled to recruit new members in recent years, with many moving away from the area or retiring.

At times, there were only five people covering the coast from Gairloch in Wester Ross up to Kinlochbervie in Sutherland.

Noel Hawkins, a member of the team said: “The number of available medics had fallen off during Covid and a call out to what we thought might be a mass stranding on Skye earlier this year highlighted that we would struggle to deal with a major incident in the region.”

Volunteers were trained using rescue pontoons

A grant from the North Highland Initiative based in Wick meant the team could subsidise a number of spots on the recent training course to encourage people to take part.

Mr Hawkins said this has been successful: “We now have 28 new medics and two refresher members back covering the north west and also east coast.

“Our marine life is quite unique in Scotland and also a major tourist attraction, so it’s good to be able to try ensuring we are capable of rescuing any animals if they get in trouble here.”

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