Hoylake RNLI volunteers assist in multi-agency rescue of stranded porpoise

Lifeboats News Release

During a routine Hovercraft exercise, the volunteer crew from RNLI Hoylake received reports of a beached porpoise off Meols. A multi-agency operation ensued between the RNLI, UK Coastguard and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) to assist the porpoise and return it to the water safely.

Hoylake RNLI Hovercraft crew were tasked by UK Coastguard at 18:48pm, shortly after launching on exercise. It was already a particularly important launch for volunteer, Harry Jones, who was being officially assessed by the RNLI after undergoing considerable training to become Hover Commander.

Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team and volunteers from the BDMLR were on the scene at Barber’s Folly, assessing the porpoise’s condition. Hoylake’s Hovercraft H-005Hurley Spirit arrived at the scene, but initially stayed back to avoid engines and fan noises causing any distress to the porpoise. BDMLR determined the porpoise was healthy enough to be returned to the water and the Hovercraft was moved into position to recover the animal.

The BDMLR volunteers carefully lifted the porpoise and brought it on board the Hovercraft with assistance from UK Coastguard and RNLI volunteers. Two of the volunteers boarded the Hovercraft to monitor the porpoise as it was transported to the water’s edge.

The BDMLR and RNLI volunteers calmly lifted the porpoise out and walked it to deeper water where it was refloated. No doubt happy to be back in familiar territory, the porpoise swam away to the delight of all volunteers involved.

The RNLI Hovercraft returned the BDMLR volunteers to the shore and the crew continued with their training exercise. Harry Jones was passed out as a qualified Hover Commander by the RNLI Assessor, who had witnessed the happy outcome to what was a surprisingly eventful exercise.

The newly qualified Hover Commander said: “This wasn’t your typical exercise and it will certainly stick in my memory! There was a brilliant sense of teamwork as the three agencies worked together to ensure the porpoise was returned to the sea safely and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

The porpoise rescue also saw RNLI volunteer crew member, Dan Whiteley, meet his fiancée, Siân Holmes, on the scene, as she had qualified as a BDMLR marine medic just a few days earlier. The couple were pleased to have the opportunity to work together to rescue the stranded porpoise.

Kristen Cureton, BDMLR North West regional coordinator, added: ‘After an assessment and administering some basic first aid to the stranded adolescent harbour porpoise, we sent photographs to BDMLR headquarters, where our vet confirmed that the porpoise was in a good condition to refloat. With the help of the Coastguard and Hoylake RNLI, we were able to return it to the water safely. We’d like to thank all of the emergency services that attended. Without them, particularly the Hoylake RNLI hovercraft, we couldn’t have rescued the porpoise.’

Whether they are out on exercise or not, volunteers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution are on standby ready to fulfil their duty in search and rescue operations 24 hours a day.

Notes to editors

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Victoria Phipps, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07709 391 253 or email vicki_phipps@rnli.org.uk. Eleri Roberts, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 07771941390 or email eleri_roberts@rnli.org.uk or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789.

Multi-agency rescue of a beached Porpoise off Meols, Wirral

BDMLR/Siân Holmes

Multi-agency rescue of a beached Porpoise off Meols, Wirral
RNLI Hovercraft attends rescue of beached Porpoise off Meols, Wirral

BDMLR/Siân Holmes

RNLI Hovercraft attends rescue of beached Porpoise off Meols, Wirral
RNLI Hovercraft assists in rescue of beached Porpoise off Meols, Wirral

BDMLR/Siân Holmes

RNLI Hovercraft assists in rescue of beached Porpoise off Meols, Wirral

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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, in a normal year, 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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