Become an ORRCA rescue member

This whale was captured off the Great Lakes coastline by Forster photographer, Adam Fitzroy.
This whale was captured off the Great Lakes coastline by Forster photographer, Adam Fitzroy.

Twice a year lucky locals get a chance to glimpse the annual whale show as these magnificent mammals travel to and from Antarctica.

The long journey north to warmer waters generally begins at the end of autumn.

However, as whale numbers continued to recover, the trek either north or south can sometimes be fraught with dangerous obstacles, as an increasing number of the mammals becoming entangled in nets and rope.

There also have been many cases of both whales and dolphins stranding themselves on beaches around Australia.

There are a range of theories why this occurs, such as whales following schools of fish, or problems with their sonar.

Volunteer group ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia) is the only wildlife carers group in NSW licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release marine mammals.

ORRCA, which also is involved with the protection and welfare of seals, sea lions, dolphins and dugongs, is the most experienced and successful whale rescue organisation in Australia.

However, the group needs more volunteers and members.

Mid North Coast rescue manager, Leigh Mansfield said there were never enough volunteers.

"We have a 24-hour number; but not everyone is available 24/7," Mr Mansfield said.

"And, the quicker we can get people on site the better," he said.

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In late February ORRCA will hold a day-long workshop in Forster to equip volunteers with to the qualifications required to rescue marine mammals

Mr Mansfield said it was important for the public to know that they were not - by legislation - allowed to touch marine mammals.

The workshops consists of a morning of theory on whales, dolphins, seals and dugongs, covering topics on biology, reasons for stranding, marine mammal incident co-ordination, legislation, and ORRCA protocols followed by an afternoon of practical, hands-on session on whale and dolphin rescue.

Cost is $90 for the training day, while membership is $30 for one year, or $60 for three.

The workshop will be held in Forster on February 22.

Mr Mansfield advised tobook early on the ORRCA website, or email orrca@orrca.org.au because numbers were limited.