AN unidentified floating object, which led to a coastguard investigation, turned out to be a deflated Happy Birthday balloon.

West Bay Coastguard was alerted at 5.38pm on Friday to reports of a black and orange object floating offshore near Abbotsbury.

Coastguard officers reported to the coastguard station in West Bay to collect their equipment and vehicle before heading over to Abbotsbury.

A spokesman from West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team said: “Once on scene, officers had a chat with the first informant who pointed out the object of concern. Through binoculars, the officers observed the orange and black object, which had an unidentifiable shape, was sitting quite low in the water and moving freely.

“As these were not the normal characteristics of a stray marker buoy, officers concluded that it warranted further investigation to rule out it being a piece of life saving equipment or a floating marker bag used by divers.”

Solent Coastguard was updated, and the RNLI Lyme Regis Lifeboat was launched to investigate further.

The coastguard spokesman added: “On arrival to the area, the lifeboat was guided onto the object by the coastguard officers which was found to be a large, partially deflated helium ‘Happy Birthday’ balloon.

“With the investigation concluded and no persons at risk, the balloon was retrieved, and all assets were then stood down. We want to thank the member of the public for reporting their concerns and this incident was recorded as a False Alarm With Good Intent. (FAWGI) Stay safe on the coast, but if you find yourself in difficulty or if you see something which gives you cause for concern, do not hesitate… DIAL 999 and ask for the coastguard.”