'Danny the Dolphin' saviour Swanage fisherman hailed 'hero'

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Dolphin rescueImage source, Maria Munn
Image caption,
Will Chellingworth took to a powered dinghy to sail out to free the dolphin

A fisherman has been hailed a hero after "taking his life in his hands" to free a dolphin.

Attempts to rescue the creature, which had been stuck 131ft (40m) off Swanage Pier in Dorset, had been hampered by high winds and dangerous swells.

Will Chellingworth used a powered dinghy to sail out to free the dolphin entangled in rope from a yacht mooring.

It is believed the animal is the locally-famous Danny the Dolphin - a regular visitor to the area.

Maria Munn from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), which was called to the pier on Wednesday morning, said Mr Chellingworth "literally took his life and the dolphin's into his hands".

Danny has a Facebook group with about 2,000 members who, upon hearing of his plight, filled the page with appeals for help.

Member Anthea Godleman later posted "Amazing work Will you are definitely a hero today" while Jo Horton added: "The world needs more people like Will".

Image source, Jurassic Jetski Tours
Image caption,
Danny the Dolphin has been a regular sight, accompanying water craft on the Dorset coast

Mr Chellingworth, 33, said he went down to the pier after reading about the eight-year-old dolphin's plight on BBC News.

"I just decided someone had to do something before darkness fell and I though conditions were suitable, the waves had died down before low water."

The dolphin "swam off quite happily", although Mr Chellingworth noticed rope burn around its tail.

'Friendly and curious'

Danny has been a regular sight on the Dorset coast since summer 2018.

Dan Bell, of Jurassic Jetski Tours, said the mammal was "friendly and curious" and frequently joined their rides along the coast.

Marine Connection, a charity dedicated to the protection of whales and dolphins, had been monitoring Danny as part of its study of solitary cetaceans.

Co-founder Liz Sandeman said: "We're talking about a very powerful wild animal and we don't know how he would have reacted, but luckily he was released.

"We just have to hope it doesn't happen again."

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