A DOLPHIN was found dead washed up on a Dorset beach.

The dolphin, understood to be a young common dolphin, was found by John Paton at Ringstead Beach on Saturday, November 18.

Mr Paton, 69, said: "I was out walking the dogs on Saturday and I often see dolphins in the harbour but this was obviously quite different and quite sad.

"It is a very pretty little creature and it is sad when they end up dead.

"It looked as though there was a cut just in front of the dolphin's tail, it may have been caught in a net out at sea, possibly in the deep sea and then washed into the shore by gales.

"The seagulls have obviously got to it because its eyes were pecked out."

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Mr Paton reported the find to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) which collects information about dolphins, whales and porpoises from all around the country.

The reporting of these incidents helps to better provide an understanding of what species are found around the UK. 

In some cases the CSIP will retrieve the carcass to carry out further examinations to try and identify any factors that may have contributed to its death.

Dorset Wildlife Trust Marine Awareness Officer, Julie Hatcher, said:" I believe that this is a young common dolphin, not fully grown.

"It has been reported to the Natural History Museum strandings office which collects data on stranded cetaceans around the UK.

"They sometimes collect the carcass for an autopsy to determine the cause of death but I'm not sure if they were able to collect this one.

"Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for dead whales and dolphins to wash ashore, especially after stormy seas.

"Often they die at sea and then the body washes ashore.

"If anyone finds a live-stranded whale or dolphin, they should immediately contact British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546.

"They will send experts to assess/rescue the animal.

"Dead strandings can be reported to Dorset Wildlife Trust who may be able to arrange for recovery for autopsy."

If anyone spots a dead dolphin in Dorset, they can also call Wild Chesil Centre on 01305 206191 or the Wild Seas Centre (Kimmeridge) on 01929 481044 or via email: kimmeridge@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk. 

Alternatively, they can be reported to CSIP directly on: 0800 652 0333.