By Frankie Barron

Marine volunteers will be testing their skills in a major training exercise at Studland this weekend.

Up to 70 volunteers from the charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) will be on the beach at Shell Bay where a whale ‘mass stranding’ scenario will be simulated using several life-size inflatable models of pilot whales.

Those involved will invited to rescue them.

The term ‘mass stranding’ describes the scene when whales or dolphins beach themselves on land, putting them at risk of dehydration.

Dan Jarvis, BDMLR’s Welfare Development and Field Support Officer is organising the event.

He said: “These exercises don’t happen too often as they’re a huge logistical challenge to set up with getting a large proportion of our rescue equipment resources from around the country in one place at one time. However, they are really important and useful to our volunteers for gaining experience, testing their first aid and assessment skills, and particularly for our incident coordinators to really get their teeth into taking charge of a situation and organising everything from animal care to emergency services liaison to crowd and media control.”

The event on Saturday, September 7 comes after the rise in ‘mass strandings’ seen across Britain in recent years, particularly the largest incident in the north of Scotland involving 70 animals.

There are a variety of reasons why these can incidents occur, including a sick or injured animal inadvertently leading the others ashore as they try to help it; being frightened by loud underwater noises such as sonar or explosions; or simply from coming into intertidal areas and becoming disoriented in an unfamiliar habitat.

Members of the public who find a live stranded dolphin or whale are asked to call BDMLR’s 24hr emergency hotline 01825 765546 immediately for urgent first aid advice and for assistance to be dispatched as soon as possible.