Dolphins are usually found in deep waters offshore, but for a number of reasons they sometimes turn up in the shallow waters of an estuary, or beached on the shore. If you find a live stranded dolphin here's how you can help...
1) Call the British Divers Marine Life Rescue for help: 01825 765 546 (maybe keep the number in your mobile).
2) Carefully approach the animal so as not to alarm it. Don't make any loud noises or sudden movements. Avoid putting yourself at risk as dolphins are powerful animals. Be especially careful of the teeth, and tail. If in doubt wait for help.
3) If you can find help, gently roll the animal onto its front, being careful not to pull it by the fins or tail.
4) Keep the skin cool and wet by dowsing with seawater. Dolphins breathe air through a blowhole on the top of their heads, so make sure no water goes into its blowhole. If possible cover the animal with wet towels or seaweed, keeping the blowhole clear.
5) Keep other people and dogs away for their own safety and to avoid stressing the animal
Marine mammals can carry diseases which are transferable to humans, so wash your hands thoroughly after contact.
Dead animals should also be reported, as the bodies can reveal details of how the animal died. In England and Wales call the Natural History Museum on: 0207 942 5155, or in Scotland call the Scottish Agricultural College on 01463 243030