A DISTRESSED porpoise was rescued by an army of volunteers after a family had spotted the animal stranded at Humphrey Head on Morecambe Bay.

The family had found the mammal beached along with two other porpoises and immediately called the British Drivers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) hotline.

Sarah Neill, Cumbria co-ordinator for the BDMLR, said the family had done the right thing to call as too often people try to rescue the animal themselves and can cause further damage.

“We gave them advice on how to apply critical first aid until we arrived,” she said.

“They kept the porpoise damp and covered so it would not get sun burnt.”

When Miss Neill arrived, the animal, which was 1.4m long, was still in good condition with some superficial wounds and was deemed fit enough to return back to the water.

However, the other two porpoises had died by the time the rescue team arrived.

As the tide was quickly coming in Morecambe RNLI, Arnside and South Lakes Coastguard and Furness coastguard also attended.

Together, they lifted the porpoise into the hovercraft where the stricken animal was then transported further out into the Bay.

It was released and kept under observation until it had safely swum away into open water.

Miss Neill said the rescue, which took several hours, would not have been managed without the help from the public, RNLI and the coastguards.

“It was just great to see the porpoise back in the water,” she said.

“Cases like these don’t happen often but if anyone does see an animal in distress they need to call our hotline.

“We also ask the public not to cover or pour any water down the porpoise’s blowhole as this could kill them. “

Other pieces of advice on what you should do if you see a stranded animal include:

l Support the animal in an upright position and to dig trenches under the pectoral fins.

l To look for any signs of injury and count the number of breaths, opening of the blowhole, that occur over a minute- this could give important clues to how stressed the animal is.

l Avoid the animal’s breath as it may carry some potentially nasty bacteria.