When I was younger, those of you who had the pleasure of visiting my bedroom (family and friends, I mean), will remember my walls used to be covered with pictures and posters of dolphins and seals. With the exception of my Bros phase (and another phase I’ll thank anyone not to mention). It was never more than a fascination of mine…until the Thames Whale.
What a strange (but not unique) sight to see a whale swimming in the Thames? Why was it there? Was it ill? Was it lost? Were there more than one? So many questions, but so few answers. I was glued to the TV and was absolutely willing it to reach safety. When it vanished, I hoped it had found its way to sea. I was out for lunch with family and even in the pub, I was watching coverage (like every other person in the pub). I remember well-meaning members of the public trying to help, but in their ignorance, probably making matters worse. I watched the volunteers trying to save the creature and cheered as it was lifted on to the barge that would ultimately take it to freedom. I also recall sitting in tears as the lights went out, after the whale’s death was confirmed.
I know there will be people reading this who can’t believe I was so upset over a whale. If you can’t understand that, then you’ll never understand me – I feel things and am not ashamed to show it. Or to say it.
After this, I did some research and came across the website of the BDMLR. There, I found lots of like-minded people. I felt like I wanted to do more but, as I wasn’t a diver (and can barely swim), what could I offer. Well, I joined their group, as they rely on funding, like all charities. Then, I found that there was a course locally, to qualify as a Marine Mammal Medic. More importantly, you don’t need to be able to dive…or swim. Hubby and I signed up and the people on the forum answered all of my stupid questions (how do you go to the toilet in a dry suit – you don’t).
The course is a mixture of theory and practical work (and comedy, courtesy of Richard – whether intentional or not, I don’t know). It is extremely interesting and the practical is certainly an experience for someone who’s terrified of the water! We ‘saved’ a blow-up whale (and attracted a crowd), rescued a blow-up doll…er, no, a blow-up dolphin and I restrained a rubber seal – how many people can say they’ve done that? After a long and tiring day, we were qualified medics.
Unfortunately, I’ve been sidelined, due to illness and a lack of transport, but I try and do what I can. If you love wildlife, and would like to be able to help marine mammals, take a look at the course here.