Hartpury’s students learned to be dolphin ‘doctors’ and how to save a stranded whale as they made a splash at GL1 this week.
The second year BTEC Level 3 Diploma Animal Management students are now fully qualified ‘marine mammal medics’, which means they can spring into action if any whales, dolphins or seals get into distress in UK waters.
They spent the day training with British Divers Marine Life Rescue at GL1 Leisure Centre. First up was a lecture to guide the students in identifying different marine mammals and advise them on health and safety, so they know how to keep themselves and the animals safe and well during a rescue operation. It also covered health checking of the marine mammals and spotting signs of distress.
Next, the students were shown how to restrain a seal and then moved into the Barton Pool to tackle the challenge of moving an inflatable dolphin and whale, the latter weighing nearly a ton when filled with water.
Student Jasmine Kilpatrick, 19, from Bredon, said: “I enjoyed learning about the anatomy of the different marine mammals and now feel confident that I will be able to put the practical training to use when called upon.”
Animal Management lecturer, Kim Lawrence, said: “The students were taught how to move these animals safely using tarpaulins and buoyancy aids. I think they were all surprised how heavy they are and how organised a rescue effort needs to be!
“Now they are certified marine mammal medics, they are qualified to assist with unbeaching and moving marine mammals such as dolphins, seals or whales that get stranded on beaches or in river systems.
“British Divers Marine Life Rescue co-ordinate these rescue efforts and text all of the qualified medics to ask for assistance. I’d like to thank them for taking the time to train our students in these techniques; it has been a fantastic opportunity for them and great practical experience.
“The students get to work with a variety of small and large animals as part of their studies at Hartpury but they would never have worked with marine mammals before. Many of them are interested in careers in conservation and working in wildlife rescue centres and zoos, so this will be fantastic to put on their CVs.
“It also opens their eyes up to different career opportunities that might be available and helps them to build up contacts within the industry. There’s also the potential for them to assist with research projects with Marine Life Rescue in future and to carry out work experience with them.
“I’m sure that now they know what to do when these animals get into trouble, many of them will be keen to come to the rescue if there are any incidents in the region.”
Student Jessica Nash, 18, from Berkeley, added: “It was a very interesting course, and a great experience.”
To find out more about the animal management courses available at Hartpury, go to www.hartpury.ac.uk