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Marine Mammal Medic Training

Jordan Havell recently undertook his Marine Mammal Medic Training! Find out what that involved here...

On Saturday 23rd January I travelled with my parents to The Living Seas Centre in Flamborough, North Yorkshire to attend the training to become qualified Marine Mammal Medics with BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue). I thought I’d tell you all about the day!


The theory


We had three lectures in the morning. The first one covered marine mammal biology and sea cetacean identification (which included whales, dolphins and porpoises). The second one was seal physiology, first aid and rescue techniques. The third one covered cetacean physiology, first aid and rescue techniques. One final lecture was based around Health and Safety for all rescue and training work.


The practicals


The afternoon was spent having practicals in seal, dolphin and whale rescues. We were taught how to assess, handle and lift an injured or stranded seal, and we even had the chance to try out our newly learned skills on life sized models.


The second was based around dolphin rescue. Again, we were taught how to assess a beached dolphin, then how to handle and lift it; we practiced our first aid skills too. The model was full of water to make it feel real! We had to work as a team and practice getting the dolphin on to a scoop and were then showed how to release it into the sea. It was very, very heavy and made us realise what it would be like in a real situation.


Finally, we were taught how to refloat a life sized model of a pilot whale. We were shown how to assess the mammal and then how to get onto a pontoon, just as if at sea. Again, like the dolphin model it was very heavy.


We had breaks in-between sessions for warm drinks and biscuits to prevent hyperthermia as it was a very cold afternoon. This showed us how important it was to take care of ourselves while on a real ‘shout’. Sadly, while we were there news broke of a beached whale at Hunstanton.


Happily at the end of the day we all received our medic certificates, handbooks, IDs etc. Although I passed my training and hold a certificate I cannot officially go on a shout to help until I’m 16 but I can watch. As soon as I am 16 then I can take part fully. We have to fundraise now to fund our kits and wetsuits.

As we travelled home we heard the news that three further sperm whales had beached and sadly died, this time at Skegness, which is not far from our home.


We had been taught about beached whales on the course. Once they beach, due to their size, their own body weight starts to crush their organs. Whales that size should not be in the North Sea as it is too shallow for them; it’s thought that they were following a food source. We saw those whales covered in sand on the beach at Skegness – a dorsal fin stood out. A really sad sight.

Jordan Havell

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