Rare dolphin spotted off Dorset coast

Rare dolphin spotted off Dorset coast

Published by George Sharpe at 12:17pm 14th April 2020. (Updated at 12:20pm 14th April 2020)

A rare species of Dolphin has been sighted off Chesil Beach.

Local whelk fisherman Ryan Casey spotted a Risso's dolphin on Wednesday 8th April while laying pots.

The dolphin's are rarely spotted in the UK and are characterised by their large size, short beak and the number of scratches covering them.

Ryan said:

"I was out on the boat with the crew laying pots, about 5 miles off Chesil Beach, when we saw an odd fin about a quarter of a mile away.  

"We are experienced fishermen and have spent our lives on the water, so instantly knew this was something unusual.  

"At first we thought it was a small whale because of the large size, but suddenly it popped up about 10 foot from the boat. It looked like a dolphin, but with a flat stubby nose and scratches all over its body.  We had never seen an animal like this before so knew this was something special".

They have a tall sickle shaped dorsal fin, stocky body, distinct blunt head and can reach a maximum length of 4m.  The scratches on their body, which can appear white, are believed to be the result of social interactions and catching prey. Their favourite food is squid and octopus.

Dorset Wildlife Trust Coastal Centres Manager, Marc Kativu-Smith said,

"We were really excited to hear about this extraordinary encounter. There are less than a handful of records of Risso's dolphin in Dorset. At a time when we are all staying home, it is nice to hear a story from essential workers, that helps remind us of how incredible our marine environment is in Dorset.  Ryan and the crew were incredibly lucky to see such an elusive dolphin."

"It is not clear why the Risso's dolphin was in the area, but it is interesting that Ryan had reported there are lots of squid eggs on their pots at the moment.  It is possible the dolphin could have followed the squid inshore while they are breeding."

You can find out more about Risso's dolphins from www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife-explorer/marine.