Baby dolphin washes ashore alive at Holywell Bay

Beachgoers and lifeguards at Holywell beach in Cornwall were amazed and saddened by the discovery of a tiny baby dolphin struggling in the surf. It was carried to a shallow pool where it sadly died shortly afterwards. ‘It is incredibly rare to see a baby dolphin,’ said Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Awareness Officer Matt Slater who was on the beach when it stranded.

Beachgoers and lifeguards at Holywell beach in Cornwall were amazed and saddened by the discovery of a tiny baby dolphin struggling in the surf. It was carried to a shallow pool where it sadly died shortly afterwards. ‘It is incredibly rare to see a baby dolphin,’ said Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Awareness Officer Matt Slater who was on the beach when it stranded. 

Matt continues, “The baby was weak and had rake marks on its body from the teeth of other dolphins. It was beautiful and tiny – I can’t believe how small they are. Common dolphins are one of the smallest dolphin species found in UK waters, slightly larger than a porpoise but much smaller than a bottlenose dolphin. There have been a lot of sightings of common dolphins around our coasts in the past week.’

British Divers Marine Life Rescue were called as soon as the dolphin was spotted by the lifeguards and they responded rapidly. Sadly, a baby dolphin this young is extremely vulnerable without its mother and it turned out that this individual was not only exhausted but badly injured. The dolphin was taken to a veterinary pathologist for a post mortem examination.

Exactly why the baby had been separated from its mother is unknown, but there were rake marks from common dolphin teeth on the skin and its possible it was either rejected or separated by aggressive non-family members.

Matt continues ‘I have spent my lifetime on and in the sea but have never seen anything like this! It shows you how surprising and unpredictable our local seas are. We urge the public to be vigilant and to report any marine life they see active around our coast using our ORKS app.’

Cornwall Wildlife Trust are asking the public to report marine sightings this summer using the ORKS App, as part of their Cornwall Marine Bioblitz which is running through #National Marine Week. The valuable data collected will allow us to understand the health of our coasts and seas and the threats facing it.  Please download our ORKS app (Orks stands for Online Recording Kernow and Scilly) to send in your sightings.

However, if you find a live animal in distress please call our collegues at British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546

If you find a dead stranded marine animal please call CWT Marine Strandings hotline 0345 2012626