Footage captures moment rescuers save stranded porpoise on Wirral beach

During a routine Hovercraft exercise, the volunteer crew from RNLI Hoylake received reports of a beached porpoise off Meols on Tuesday night.

A multi-agency operation ensued between the RNLI, Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue(BDMLR) to assist the porpoise and return it to the water safely.

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-005 ‘Hurley Spirit’ arrived on scene, but initially stayed back to avoid engines and fan noises causing any distress to the porpoise.

Timothy Kinch

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.

Chris Cureton

Harry Jones was passed out as a qualified Hovercraft 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.’

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