A pelagic species measuring up to 2.7 metres in length, black dorsally, white ventrally, with a white side stripe, becoming yellow/ochre at the rear, and a grey stripe below these. Has a stubby ‘beak’. Atlantic white-sided dolphins have a gestation period of 10 to 12 months, calves are born in early summer, measuring 1.0 to 1.3 metres, and are dependent for up to 18 months. The species is found in variable sized groups and they feed primarily on small shoaling fish, e.g. herring, smelt and juvenile mackerel, but will also take squid.
This species is found primarily off the north and north-west coasts of Scotland, in the northern North Sea and very rarely in the English Channel and southern North Sea.
As it is usually found to the far north of the country, most reports of this species as live strandings are correspondingly from this area of the UK. They have sometimes been known to mass strand in some of these cases too.
A whale, dolphin or porpoise stranded on the beach is obviously not a usual phenomenon. These animals do not beach themselves under normal circumstances, and they will require assistance. Please DO NOT return them to the sea as they may need treatment and or a period of recovery before they are fit enough to swim strongly.
BDMLR RESCUE HOTLINE:
01825 765546 (24hr)
RSPCA hotline (England & Wales): 0300 1234 999
SSPCA hotline (Scotland): 03000 999 999
You will receive further advice over the phone, but important things you can do to help are:
If you find a dead cetacean
The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) collects a wide range of data on each stranding found on UK shores. If you discover a dead animal, please contact the CSIP hotline and give a description of the following where possible:
Digital images are extremely helpful to identify to species, as well as ascertaining whether the body may be suitable for post-mortem examination.
CSIP has produced a useful leaflet that can be downloaded by clicking here.
CSIP hotline: 0800 6520333. Callers are given a number of options to ensure they reach the correct department. You can also use this number to contact BDMLR as there is an option for live animal strandings that transfers directly to us.