By Russell Wynn, 26 February 2018
Below is the text of a Wild New Forest press release that featured in the Southern Daily Echo and on BBC Radio Solent
Two rare sightings of Common Dolphins have been reported in the Solent by local wildlife observers. The first sighting was of a dead stranded individual on the shoreline near Lymington on the afternoon of Wednesday 22 February. A further two presumed Common Dolphins were then seen early the next day swimming alongside container ships in upper Southampton Water off Bury Marshes.
The stranded dolphin near Lymington was found and photographed by Marcus Ward, who is co-founder of the Wild New Forest initiative. Marcus said: “This is the first dolphin I’ve seen in the Solent in over 25 years of regular observation, so it’s a very rare but sad event. The corpse looked very fresh, and there were no obvious signs of injury.”
The stranded Common Dolphin near Lymington (Photo: Marcus Ward/Wild New Forest)
The dolphin corpse will undergo post-mortem at the Zoological Society of London, which may provide an indication of the cause of death. It follows another stranding of a juvenile Common Dolphin in Fareham Creek last autumn, which had to be put down as it was malnourished and injured.
The two live dolphins seen in Southampton Water are probably linked to the stranded individual. Prof Russell Wynn, also a co-founder of Wild New Forest and an Associate Director at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton said: “Although we occasionally see Bottlenose Dolphins in and around the Solent, Common Dolphins prefer more open waters, and sadly are usually only seen in our region when they are dead or distressed. It is therefore possible that the two individuals in Southampton Water will also strand in the coming days”.
Close-up of the freshly dead Common Dolphin (Photo: Marcus Ward/Wild New Forest)
Visitors to the Solent coast this weekend are urged to report any further dolphin strandings using the details below, while sightings can also be reported to Wild New Forest via their Facebook page and website.
Live strandings – British Divers Marine Life Rescue: 01825 765546 (office hours) or 07787 433412 (out of office hours)
Dead strandings – Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme: 0800 652 0333