Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A helicopter and a dead porpoise.

After a day off during which I was so tired I barely managed to lift my chin it was back to work as normal today. It was good after all the craziness of the weekend to get back to some semblance of normality and I was looking forward to a day of finishing jobs at the Ranger Centre. There are a number of little projects that have been put off due to bad weather and while the others were out on the hill completing the ptarmigan survey I hoped to enjoy a day of pootling and answering the phone. Shortly after lunch a pair of men arrived in a vehicle asking if they could land their helicopter in the castle fields. Not long after a royal Navy Sea King descended on a training exercise, scared the visitors and wildlife by whooshing leaves everywhere, and then left again. What a life!

Normality didn't really appear as predicted though as a call to the centre informed us of a dead harbour porpoise on the beach at Whiting Bay. I drove down there in the van to collect it for sending to the Scottish Agricultural College in Inverness for a post mortem. I had not expected to find an adult animal as strandings and deaths are usually juveniles. However, the poor creature was about five foot long, an adult male (I think), and extremely difficult for me to move on my own. I managed eventually to wrap it and drag it up the beach. There was some comedy value as I wrestled with the dead weight all the way back to the van but I was quite emotional at the same time as he was a beautiful creature, and I never expected to get so close to one, especially in such sad circumstances. Harbour porpoises are generally very shy and wary of vessels, and although they are sighted regularly in the Clyde, they are often just a fin glimpsed from afar as they glide away from you.

1 comment:

Lucy Wallace said...

Hi- a verbal update on the post mortem of this poor beast. I understand that he was suffering from a massive lung infection akin to pneumonia in humans, and to make matters worse had denatl decay to the degree that feeding would have been very difficult. Very sad but seemingly natural end for a wonderful creature.