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Medics are on duty 24/7 and respond to strandings via a phone alert system. Alerts to HQ come not only from members of the public but also from The Police, the SSPCA and the Coastguard with whom they work and train with.
During 2018, Coastwatch's own David Devoy took over as Area Coordinator for Clydeside and Ayrshire, joining the training team and assisting in the training of new medics all over Scotland. The team currently has around 60 medics from all walks of life who can be called upon to respond to a mammal or cetacean strandings. The team covers the area from Arrochar in the north of Scotland to Girvan in the south, including the Isle of Arran, the Isle of Cumbrae, inland rivers and sea lochs. They can also be called upon to assist with mass and/or major strandings anywhere in Scotland, taking their rescue kit with them to assist the other teams.
That same year David trained with SMASS (Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme) at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine and thereafter he joined their team. This achievement means he can attend strandings of dead seals and cetaceans carrying out basic necropsy on the beach and sending samples off for analysis to determine what happened.
The public might be surprised how many call outs the team actually get in the Clydeside and Ayrshire areas; from local beaches to rocky terrain and mudflats every rescue is different: from re-floating a stranded cetacean using our rescue pontoons and other equipment, to transporting injured seals to rescue centres.
Coastwatch plays a vital part locally during their beach and harbour patrols, and if they see anything they think is not right they phone it into BDLMR HQ and a team can be on site within 30 minutes depending on which medics are required. The local coastline at Irvine can provide a habitat for seals, porpoises and dolphins and as far as Cetaceans are concerned, we have seen Minke Whale, Humpback Whale, Basking Sharks and even Orca.