Dolphins join lifeboat crew for training exercise in Girvan

A group of dolphins decided to make a splash and join a lifeboat crew for a training exercise in Girvan, South Ayrshire. The playful pod was spotted by the volunteers of the Girvan Lifeboat Station on Sunday, as they were practising their manoeuvres near the harbour.

A rare and amazing sight

The crew members were delighted and amazed by the rare sight of the dolphins, which are not often seen in the area. They captured some footage of the dolphins swimming alongside their boat and jumping out of the water. The video was shared on the station’s Facebook page, where it received hundreds of likes and comments from the public.

The station wrote: “We were joined by some friends during our training exercise this morning. Always a pleasure to see dolphins in the bay, especially when they are as playful as this group.”

One of the crew members, Craig Sommerville, told STV News that it was a “fantastic” experience to see the dolphins up close. He said: “We were just doing some training exercises near the harbour and we saw them coming towards us. They were very curious and playful, they were jumping out of the water and following us around. It was fantastic, we were all smiling and laughing.”

Dolphins join lifeboat crew for training exercise in Girvan

He added that the dolphins stayed with them for about 15 minutes, before they moved on to another part of the bay. He said: “It was a rare and amazing sight, we don’t see dolphins very often here. Maybe once or twice a year, if we are lucky. They are such beautiful and intelligent animals, it was a privilege to see them.”

A boost for the lifeboat crew

The Girvan Lifeboat Station is one of the 238 stations operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) around the UK and Ireland. The station has a crew of 18 volunteers, who are on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies at sea. The station has a Shannon class all-weather lifeboat, which can reach speeds of up to 25 knots and can operate in all weather conditions.

The station’s operations manager, James McAllister, said that the encounter with the dolphins was a boost for the crew, who have been working hard throughout the pandemic. He said: “It was a lovely surprise for the crew, they were over the moon. It was a nice reward for them, after all the challenges they have faced in the last year and a half.”

He explained that the station has been following strict Covid-19 protocols to ensure the safety of the crew and the public. He said: “We have been very careful and cautious, we have been wearing masks and gloves, sanitising the boat and the equipment, and limiting the number of people on board. We have also been doing more online training and meetings, to reduce the risk of transmission.”

He said that the station has been busy with call-outs, as more people have been visiting the coast and taking part in water activities. He said: “We have seen an increase in demand for our services, especially in the summer months. We have been dealing with a variety of incidents, such as people getting into difficulty in the water, boats breaking down, or animals in distress. We are always ready to help, but we also urge people to be careful and sensible when they are near the water.”

He thanked the public for their support and donations, which help the station to continue its lifesaving work. He said: “We are very grateful for the generosity and kindness of the people in our community and beyond. They have been very supportive of us, especially during these difficult times. We rely on their donations to keep our station running and our boat operational. Every penny counts and makes a difference.”

How to spot and protect dolphins

Dolphins are marine mammals that belong to the cetacean family, which also includes whales and porpoises. There are more than 40 species of dolphins in the world, ranging in size, shape, and colour. Some of the most common species found in UK waters are the bottlenose dolphin, the common dolphin, the Risso’s dolphin, and the white-beaked dolphin.

Dolphins are highly social and intelligent animals, that live in groups called pods. They communicate with each other using sounds, body language, and echolocation. They feed on fish, squid, and crustaceans, and can dive to depths of up to 300 metres. They can swim at speeds of up to 30 kilometres per hour, and can jump up to six metres out of the water.

Dolphins are protected by law in the UK, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. These laws prohibit the deliberate killing, injuring, capturing, or disturbing of dolphins, as well as the damage or destruction of their habitats. Anyone who breaks these laws can face a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison.

The UK is also a signatory to the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), which aims to protect and conserve dolphins and other cetaceans in the region. The agreement covers measures such as reducing pollution, noise, and fishing bycatch, as well as promoting research, education, and public awareness.

The public can help to protect and conserve dolphins by following some simple guidelines, such as:

  • If you see dolphins in the wild, keep a safe distance of at least 100 metres and avoid approaching them head-on or from behind. Do not chase, harass, or touch them, as this can cause them stress and injury.
  • If you are on a boat, reduce your speed and noise, and avoid sudden changes in direction or course. Do not drive through or between dolphin pods, or cut off their escape routes. If dolphins approach your boat, let them do so on their own terms and do not follow them if they leave.
  • If you are on land, use binoculars or a telescope to observe dolphins from a distance. Do not throw anything into the water, or leave any litter or waste behind. Respect the privacy and safety of dolphins and other wildlife, and do not disturb their natural behaviour or habitat.
  • If you find a stranded or injured dolphin, do not attempt to move or touch it, as this can cause more harm. Call the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546, or the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) on 03000 999 999, and follow their instructions. Stay with the dolphin until help arrives, and keep it calm and wet by covering it with seaweed or wet towels.
  • If you want to learn more about dolphins and how to protect them, you can visit the websites of various organisations, such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT), and the Sea Watch Foundation (SWF). You can also support their work by donating, volunteering, or adopting a dolphin.
By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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