Dolphin found in Essex estuary had birth 'complications'
A dolphin found dead in a river estuary may have died from complications from giving birth.
The animal was spotted in Essex's Blackwater Estuary on Thursday but died before British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) could reach it.
The body was retrieved by the group with help from the coastguard.
The rescue group said a post-mortem examination found the short-beaked common dolphin may have died from "complications close to giving birth".
Warning: Graphic images below
The species is not normally found in the North Sea and is more common in the deeper waters of the western end of the English Channel and southern Irish Sea, BDMLR said.
The Zoological Society of London's Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme (CSIP) collected the corpse from the northern shore of the estuary near Goldhanger to carry out initial tests and more results are due to come back over the coming weeks.
A BDMLR spokeswoman said: "The live animal was seen by a gentleman who was walking along the Blackwater Estuary and he called our rescue hotline as he was concerned the animal was swimming so close to the shore.
"He was shortly joined by two other walkers who helped direct our trained volunteers to the location, ahead of the dolphin stranding.
"Unfortunately between us receiving the initial call and our volunteers arriving on site, the animal stranded and died. The dolphin was an adult female, approximately 6ft 6ins [2m], and did not appear to have any injuries."