THE shore at Fisherrow was awash with life-size inflatable models of pilot whales and dolphins for a major training exercise on Saturday.

About 60 volunteers from across the country turned out for the event organised by the marine mammal rescue charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR).

Dan Jarvis, BDMLR’s welfare development officer, said: “The training exercise went very well.

“We had 15 of our whale and dolphin models that were stranded on the beach for the volunteers to deal with and organise a rescue around.

“We had a veterinary team involved who were assessing each animal and whether it would be viable to be refloated, while key team members were involved with overseeing animal care, logistics, incident control and health and safety aspects of the incident.

“Mass strandings don’t happen often but there can be a number of reasons why they occur, including navigational error, underwater noise disturbance, or an injured or sick animal that the others follow and all end up getting into difficulty on the shore.

“When the tide returned in the afternoon, the ‘animals’ that had ‘survived’ were refloated using specialist rescue equipment and ‘released’ again.

“Many good lessons were learned from this exercise, and [it was also a chance] for the volunteers to practise the first aid and care skills needed to correctly and safely deal with stranded cetaceans.

“We would like to thank Fisherrow Yacht Club for providing facilities, food and drink throughout the day.”

Members of the public who find a live stranded dolphin or whale should call BDMLR’s 24-hour emergency hotline 01825 765546.