Dolphin rare to the UK washes up on Cornwall beach 

Striped dolphins are warmer-water species usually found in the Bay of Biscay and are infrequently recorded in the UK.   Credit: Dan Jarvis

A dolphin, not typically found in UK waters, has washed up on a beach in Cornwall.

On Saturday 17 February just after 4pm, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) hotline called with reports of a stranded dolphin at Praa Sands in Cornwall. 

Members of the public were attempting to refloat it despite dangerous weather conditions. 

Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team was dispatched for human safety supervision, while BDMLR’s Marine Mammal Medics (MMM) were summoned to respond.

It was found to be a striped dolphin, which is infrequently recorded in the UK. Credit: Dan Jarvis

On arrival, medics were able to take control and recovered the dolphin, which was being washed onto the beach by the waves.

It was found to be a striped dolphin, a warmer-water species usually found in the Bay of Biscay. 

Dan Jarvis, from BDMLR, said: "We’re seeing a gradual increase of [striped dolphin strandings] in the UK because of climate change and sea temperatures rising.

"In the last 20 years, there's been an increase, we see one or two [striped dolphin] strandings a year, and there's a slight increase in other parts of the UK too."

Many stranded striped dolphins in the UK have been found in poor nutritional condition with underlying health issues, so typically have been put down.

However, on this occasion the dolphin was assessed to be in moderate condition, making it a possible candidate to be refloated.

Further assessment showed minor injuries caused by stranding, plus some old wounds.

The male dolphin was found to be stressed with a high breathing rate. 

The dolphin was washed up on the beach. Credit: Dan Jarvis

It was decided the dolphin had to be moved to Carbis Bay, as that location was the best chance of getting him back out to sea.  

By the time the dolphin swam out to sea and everyone was stood down, it was dark. 

The next morning, MMM were already out searching the area when a call came in of the same dolphin caught up in the surf at Hayle, so a team was deployed with a vet again. 

On arrival, the dolphin was brought ashore for reassessment. This revealed its health had declined and euthanasia would be the best option for its welfare.

The striped dolphin was put down on Sunday 18 February. Credit: Dan Jarvis

Following an efficient and painless procedure, it was taken for post-mortem examination with Cornwall Marine Pathology Team.

Dan said dolphins can strand for a number of reasons including old age, health reasons, getting lost, or human activity like getting caught in marine litter or boat activity.

Throughout the year, Dan said there are half a dozen live dolphin strandings in the South West.

He added: "Sometimes these animals just won't survive, they can't cope in the sea anymore."

If you see a stranded dolphin, call the BDMLR hotline on 01825 765546.