Scarborough Lifeboat launches on a mission with a Porpoise

Lifeboats News Release

It’s not often those assisted by the RNLI quite literally jump for joy after being rescued, but that’s exactly what happened in Scarborough this afternoon when the RNLI in shore lifeboat John Wesley Hillard III was asked to launch by the UK Coastguard to help the RSPCA with a stranded porpoise.

The marine mammal had been in Scarborough Harbour all day but by the time the RNLI volunteers were called in to help at 16.37pm the low tide meant the porpoise had stranded itself hard and fast onto a mud bank and was facing the harbour wall, unable to escape to the open sea.

While a large crowd watched from the top of the wall, the RNLI crew of four volunteers aboard the inshore lifeboat managed to manoeuvre close to the animal, of which around two inches was now above the water, and used oars to convert a pouch, which is usually used for human casualties, into a cradle to support the porpoise.

The animal was then gently coaxed by the crew into the cradle and eased off the mud bank. ‘There was a big cheer from the crowd when we got it alongside,’ said Scarborough Lifeboat Mechanic Dave Horsley.

With the mammal safely secure, the crew transported it slowly to a nearby pontoon where an RSPCA officer was standing by on a boat to examine it. On declaring the porpoise fit and well the lifeboat crew then took it a mile and a half out to sea before it was released into open water from the D class lifeboat.

‘We’ve carried out rescues of dogs over the years, but this is the first porpoise I remember,’ said Dave . ‘It’s great to see something being returned to the wild and hopefully swimming off to join its pod. It did a couple of flips as it was going out and we didn’t see it again.’

It’s not the first time the RNLI has been involved in rescuing animals. In 2016 the charity saved 431 human lives but also saved 41 dogs, two dolphins, three horses, one porpoise, one seal and two sheep.

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Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Scarborough RNLI volunteers rescue stranded porpoise


Scarborough RNLI volunteers rescue stranded porpoise

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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