Learn how to save whales, dolphins, dugongs, and seals

Cetacean rescue group ORRCA will run a one-day workshop at Byron Bay next week, teaching people how to safely rescue stranded whales, dolphins, dugongs, and seals.
Cetacean rescue group ORRCA will run a one-day workshop at Byron Bay next week, teaching people how to safely rescue stranded whales, dolphins, dugongs, and seals. Contributed

IF YOU see a whale or dolphin stranded on the beach, your first reaction may be to push it back into the water, but this is not necessarily the best first response, says Australia's cetacean rescue group ORRCA.

"Unfortunately, people may try to push the animal back into the water immediately and that can actually damage the animal and is also very dangerous," said Shona Lorigan, vice-president of ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia).

"Our advice is don't push the animal back, but call the ORRCA hotline immediately so that we can assess and assist the animal."

Every year, ORRCA trains members of government agencies and volunteers in marine mammal rescue and they have a one-day training session coming up in Byron Bay on May 25.

Ms Lorigan said the training session in whale, dolphin, seal and dugong rescue would equip volunteers with the skills needed in a stranding and would include theory and practical beach exercises.

"We train volunteers on the physiology and biology of seals, dolphins, whales and dugongs; explain why they strand and teach immediate first aid and triage methods and run through the different stages of rescue and recovery," she said.

"Byron Bay is an important hotspot of whale sightings and ORRCA has been working with other rescue groups worldwide to ensure that ORRCA's training methods include the latest techniques, so that we can continue to improve success rates at whale strandings."

The reasons behind whale strandings could be varied, Ms Lorigan said, and with toothed whales the family ties were so strong that one whale beaching itself could be quickly followed by the rest of the family.

Those interested can contact the ORRCA hotline on 0294153333 or visit the organisation's website.



  • Immediately call the 24-hour ORRCA Marine Mammal Rescue Hotline 0294153333 or the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Do not do the following:

  • Do not do anything that will injure yourself or others.
  • Do not push the animal back to sea.
  • Do not use the fins or flippers as handles.
  • Do not cover or obstruct the blowhole or eyes.
  • Do not try to feed the animals.

Topics:  dolphins dugongs orrca seals whales

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