The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) facilitated a Training Workshop primarily for First Responders and other key personnel. The workshop ran for three (3) days and covered both theoretical and practical aspects of marine mammal strandings/rescues.
Participants learnt how to handle single and multiple strandings for live and dead animals; how to stretcher animals; and use of the pontoon. The workshop also provided a good ground for preliminary discussions about response protocols and proper necropsy procedures.
The workshop was hosted by the Manatee Conservation Trust in conjunction with the Zoological Society of Trinidad & Tobago, with in-house sessions conducted at the IFAW Regional Office, Zoo Road, St. Clair.
In light of the increased incidents of whale strandings along the east coast as recent as Easter Monday, the workshop was a timely opportunity for first responders to learn skills and for stakeholders to develop proper stranding protocols.
Facilitators Misty Niemeyer, Necropsy Coordinator and Jane M. LaRocque, Stranding Technicians assigned to the IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Program lectured on various topics including: Live Cetacean Stranding Response, Carcass Recovery and Data Collection. The practical sessions were conducted at Tyrico Bay, Maracas and William’s Bay, Carenage. Model dolphins, whales and the research vessel, Rescue 1 allowed for a hands-on approach to training.
Thirty participants attended the workshop comprising: Zookeepers, Game Wardens, Manatee Trust personnel and other first responders from coastal communities. Representatives from the Wildlife Section, Forestry Division; Institute of Marine Affairs; Environmental Management Authority; Life Guard Association and the T&T Marine Mammal Stranding Network were also present. Regional participants included: the Head Keeper at Guyana Zoo and one representative each from the Nature Conservation Division, Suriname and Milagros in Venezuela.
Participants commented on the strong camaraderie shared by the group and expressed their willingness to be part of the network in the future.