Highlands & Islands

Photographs show healing of sunburned dolphin Spirtle

Sunburned dolphin Spirtle Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption An image taken just months after bottlenose dolphin Spirtle was sunburned

Photographs taken by University of Aberdeen scientists chart a dolphin's recovery from horrific looking sunburn injuries.

The bottlenose dolphin known as Spirtle was stranded out of the water on mudflats for 24 hours last May in the Cromarty Firth.

Sunburned dolphin Spirtle Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption The dolphin was injured after becoming stranded on mudflats

She was spotted by chance by a couple who had got lost trying to drive to a dolphin-watching spot at the Moray Firth.

Rescuers refloated the dolphin but did think she would survive.

Sunburned dolphin Spirtle Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption Scientists have been monitoring how Spirtle's wound has healed

The University of Aberdeen has been monitoring Spirtle's recovery from its Lighthouse Field Station at Cromarty.

Scientists and conservationists hope Spirtle might eventually breed and raise young.

Sunburned dolphin Spirtle in May 2017 Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption An image of Spirtle taken in May this year

She is part of a group of dolphins that include her sister Honey and their mother Porridge, and are usually found in the Moray Firth.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation field officer and wildlife photographer Charlie Phillips has also been helping to document Spirtle's recovery.

Spirtle and mum Porridge in 2012 Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption Young Spirtle and her mum Porridge in 2012
Spirtle and Porridge Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption Mother and daughter in 2015
Sunburned dolphin Spirtle Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption Conservationists hope she will go on to raise young of her own
Spirtle Image copyright WDC/Charlie Phillips
Image caption An image of Spirtle taken at the weekend by Charlie Phillips

All images are copyrighted.

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