Sunburned dolphin Spirtle shows signs of healing

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

  • Published
Sunburned dolphin Spirtle and young dolphinImage source, WDC/Charlie Phillips
Image caption,
A photograph taken of Spirtle and her sister's calf earlier this week

New images of a dolphin that was badly sunburned while stranded out of water on mudflats for 24 hours in May show that its injury is healing.

The young animal was found by chance at the Cromarty Firth by a couple who had got lost trying to drive to a dolphin-watching spot at the Moray Firth.

Scientists and conservationists were unsure the animal would survive the injury after it was refloated.

The images were taken from the shores of the Cromarty and Moray firths.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation field officer Charlie Phillips photographed the bottlenose dolphin, known as Spirtle, "babysitting" her sister Honey's calf from Nigg on the Cromarty Firth earlier this week.

Image source, University of Aberdeen
Image caption,
Spirtle was badly sunburned after becoming stranded on mudflats in May

Animal welfare officers and members of the public refloated Spirtle after the animal was spotted by a couple who had got lost while trying to drive to a popular dolphin spotting site.

They were looking for Chanonry Point on the Moray Firth but instead ended up on the Nigg peninsula on the Cromarty Firth.

The University of Aberdeen and the Inverness-based Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) are monitoring Spirtle's recovery from the stranding.

There are hopes the young female might eventually breed and raise young.

Image source, WDC/Charlie Phillips
Image caption,
A sequence of images taken by Charlie Phillips of Spirtle near Fort George on the Moray Firth earlier this year
Image source, WDC/Charlie Phillips
Image caption,
The Cromarty and Moray firths are well-known for dolphin spotting

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