Last Saturday I took part in Marine Mammal Medic training through the amazing charity, Project Jonah. If you haven’t heard of them and have any interest in marine mammals, you should definitely check them out, I will add a link to their website at the end of this entry. They focus on helping marine mammals that have stranded, and while they are only a New Zealand based charity, they have set the standard for stranded marine mammal care on a global scale.
Our morning started at the rather unsociable hour of 4am, but a hefty dose of caffeine and blaring The Rock FM helped us with the 3 and a half hour journey North to beautiful Kaikoura, along with the stunning sunrise.
The course itself was very informative and a lot of fun, despite the subject being of a sad nature, nobody wants to have to save stranded whales and dolphins! Many of the facts and figures were quite shocking and unfortunately, despite New Zealand doing a lot for marine mammal conservation, the stranding rate is one of the highest in the world here.
After a morning of learning all the facts and figures, it was time to put our knew knowledge to the test! We headed for the beach and practised our ‘first aid’ on life size inflatable (but filled with water!) dolphins (a common dolphin and a pilot whale). It was more challenging than I had expected, being faced with a living dolphin or whale would have been far more scary without this valuable aspect of the course. We practised what to do while the animals are still on the beach and then what to do when re-floating and releasing. After that we were cold and qualified! It is a bittersweet feeling that the next time I use these skills it will be on a stranded animal, fighting for its life.
It was difficult to leave Kaikoura without a visit to the Seal Colony, it was getting late in the day and there were a few little ones splashing around in the shallows 🙂