Wildlife of The Solway Firth 80 – The Common Beaked Dolphin
Wildlife of The Solway Firth 80 – The Common Beaked Dolphin Delphinus delphis
By Mark Vollers
Just recently observant members of the public on Maryport promenade spotted a dolphin struggling in the breaking waves on the tideline and rang us at the nearby Aquarium.
We were able to rush three staff to its assistance and fortunately we were able to gently encourage it into deeper water where it was seen to swim away.
Watch the video of The Lake District Coast Aquarium Team helping the stranded dolphin get back into deep water: https://www.facebook.com/reel/1395121964742682
This magnificent animal was a Common Short Beaked Dolphin, an occasional visitor to our coasts between May and October but otherwise normally found in deeper temperate and tropical waters throughout the Pacific, North Atlantic and Mediterranean. It is identified by its well defined white lower jaws, belly and flanks which contrast with a grey upper body.
They are the smallest member of the toothed whale family with 50-60 interlocking small teeth, as adults reaching a size of about two metres and a weight of 150-200kg. Equipped in this way and with powerful tails they can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h, so easily able to catch their preferred food of fish and squid. Life expectancy is into the high twenties, females are pregnant for 10-11 months and then look after their young for at least a year, generally in the company of numerous other dolphins as they are highly sociable. Some ‘super pods’ have been seen with thousands of dolphins but much is yet to be learnt about their behaviour.
The main threat to this species comes from commercial fishing as accidental by-catch and from increasing levels of toxins in their bodies from man-made chemicals.