THERE has been an outpouring of sadness following the news that local celebrity Danny the dolphin died. 

As previously reported, a dead bottlenose dolphin was found in Portland Harbour on Tuesday (October 27) with investigations underway to determine the cause of death.

Marine wildlife expert Liz Sandeman, co-founder of Marine Connection, said she is "99.9 per cent sure it is definitely Danny."

"It's such devastating news," she added.

"I've worked in this field for over 25 years - everybody has become so touched by him - there's going to be so many upset people - he's become such a big part of the town."

Why Weymouth residents and tourists loved Danny the dolphin

Dorset Echo:

The much-loved dolphin, also known to some as Gary, was a frequent visitor to the Dorset coast and very popular with residents and tourists. He was known for leaping out of the water just feet away from people on watercraft.

Danny regularly appeared around Weymouth and Portland Harbour in particular, with locals and visitors alike sharing sightings of the friendly flipper on social media.

The dolphin is so popular that he even has his own Facebook page and community group with thousands of members.

Jurassic Jet Ski Tours, who operates around Weymouth and Portland as well as the cruise ships, regularly shared photos and sightings of Danny.

The flamboyant dolphin made regular appearances for those taking boat trips and jet ski tours, leaping out of the water just feet away from customers.

Dan Bell, owner of Jurassic Jet Ski Tours, said in September: "We like to highlight the marine life.

"If we do see dolphins we stop because everyone is interested, stay for a bit and then if they want to follow they can.

"One of the instructors was just getting his phone out to take a picture of the customer and luckily it was the perfect timing for the shot."

While the mammal has largely stayed out of trouble, fishermen have looked out for Danny and have rescued him when he was in danger.

Local fisherman Will Chellingworth saved Danny after he became trapped on a bouy in October 2019. 

He said at the time: "I went out in a small rowing boat with an outboard to try and free him. Luckily I was successful and managed to free him. He was entangled in the pickup bouy rope that was around his tail.

"There were no nets caught on him like people have said. The bouy has been removed in case he decides to get caught in it again!

"Hopefully he'll stay away from mooring bouys from now on."

Amid the uncertainty and unsettling times caused by coronavirus in 2020, Danny the dolphin continued to serve as light relief to residents and tourists.

'Danny gave us so much joy' - Tributes shared to Danny the Dolphin

Dorset Echo:

Since news of the death was shared online, dozens of people were left saddened and offered their own tributes and memories. 

Many called the news "utterly heartbreaking" and remembered how he was "the talk of the harbour". 

Amy Prosser said: "We were lucky enough to see Danny in Weymouth waters. The dolphins (we saw) that day made our day."

Portland Marina was left saddened by the news and recalled one particular moment when he jumped out of the water infront of a rescued teenager. 

A Facebook post reads: "Danny gave us so much joy with his antics, showing off his acrobatic skills and popping up to take a look whenever we were moving boats around or doing things in the marina basin.

"One of our fondest memories of Danny was watching him on CCTV cheer up a tired & upset teenager who had capsized her laser dinghy at the entrance to the marina and was being rescued by the WPNSA safety boat.

"She was sat in the bow crying when up pops Danny checking all was OK. He soon put a smile on her face with a few flips!"

Weymouth Bay Rib Charter shared online: "He will be missed by all. We are very sad about the news."

The latest on Danny the Dolphin

Dorset Echo:

A necropsy will now be carried out by the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP), which looks into the causes of death of cetaceans around the country.

In a statement, Portland Port said: "A dead bottlenose dolphin was removed from Portland Harbour (yesterday.)

"It is due to be collected by the UK Cetacean Stranding Information Project for analysis on October 28."

The news comes after dead dolphins and a seal were sighted at Chesil Beach on Portland earlier this week, however this latest incident is not believed to be linked.