Rescued dolphin found dead on Highlands beach

A Risso's dolphin similar to the one that was found stranded. Image: Colin Bird
A Risso's dolphin similar to the one that was found stranded. Image: Colin Bird
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A dolphin which was rescued just a month ago has been found dead on a Scottish beach.

The Risso’s dolphin was saved by volunteers last month when it was stranded in shallow waters.

But it was found dead after being washed up on a beach near Munlochy Bay, Highlands, last Thursday. Experts believe it to be the same dolphin that they rescued near Redcastle, Highlands, on January 9.

Risso’s dolphins are usually found in deeper water away from our shores.

Nick Davison, stranding co-ordinator at the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), explained why they believe it to be the same animal.

He said: “Before it was put back in the sea it was measured and photographed, so we know the size.

“The measurements match. We’re pretty confident it’s the same animal. It was not in the best of health, but it was re-floated with good intentions.

“It was found by someone walking their dog. It may have been there for a couple of days.

Nick added: “We don’t know why that particular dolphin was still in the firth.

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“We do occasionally get wanderers of that species that get caught in the firth. It might have been ill and not have been able to leave after we first re-floated it.

“By the time we found the dolphin though, we were unable to determine its cause of death.”

Bottlenose dolphins are often seen in the Moray Firth near Inverness, Highlands, but it is unusual to find other species of dolphin in the area.

Nick said: “It’s unusual to find Risso’s dolphins in this location. There’s a good population of them in the Minch.

“You would expect to see them there, and in and around Orkney and Shetland, but it’s a bit unusual to find them in the firth.”

Risso’s dolphins are named after naturalist Antoine Risso, whose description formed the basis of the first public description of the species by Georges Cuvier in 1812.

It is the largest species of dolphin, weighing up to 1,100lbs.

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