Sunday 22 October 2017

Shoulders to the whale as troops swim to rescue

Members of the Defence Forces and a local rescue team help return a beached pilot whale to the sea in Co Meath
Members of the Defence Forces and a local rescue team help return a beached pilot whale to the sea in Co Meath
Members of the Defence Forces and a local rescue team help return a beached pilot whale to the sea in Co Meath

Elaine Keogh

A BEACHED whale was successfully returned to the sea with a little help from the Defence Forces, but another of the mammals died before it could be saved.

Four members of the Defence Forces left a firing range to help rescue the first beached whale between Laytown and Mosney in Co Meath – and were credited with saving its life.

However it was just the first of two call-outs for Boyne Fishermen's Rescue and Recovery Service (BFRRS) involving beached whales, the second of which died.

Robbie Farrell from BFRRS said it could not have rescued the first whale without the help of the soldiers.

"They were in the right place at the right time," he said.

The troops, from B Company 27th Infantry Battalion, Gormanston Camp, used their shoulders to manoeuvre the whale back into the sea.

"It was six metres long and it was the first whale we have ever rescued. It must have weighed about two-and-a-half tonne and there is no way, even with the locals who helped us, that we could have done it without the Army."

The BFRRS are more used to rescuing people from the River Boyne or searching for missing people in rivers and waterways countrywide.

"It was nice to do this, it was a good feeling and unusual to help an animal," added Mr Farrell.

A spokeswoman for the Defence Forces confirmed that four soldiers who had been training on the firing range at Gormanston had gone to lend a hand.

"The Defence Force members were happy to assist in what is an unusual situation for them. They had been training when they saw the coastguard helicopter flying nearby and wondered what was going on," said a spokeswoman.

By 2pm the BFRRS were called to the second whale, also believed to be a pilot whale, which had beached further up the Meath coast close to Mornington.

This whale died before it could be guided back into the sea. At first rescuers thought it might be the same whale, but later decided it was a different one.

Irish Independent

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