MEMBERS of the public are being warned not to handle birds washed up on the Dorset coast covered in an unknown substance.

More than 100 seabirds have been rescued from the coast. They have been washed up from Cornwall to Weymouth and experts say more are likely to show up futher east over the next few days.

The white waxy-like substance is thought to be some form of vegetable oil which has reacted with the seawater.

A Dorset County Council spokesman said: "While the substance is being identified, agencies are urging people to avoid coming into contact with the birds and to keep their pets away from the shoreline."

A Dorset Wildlife Trust echoed his sentiments, warning the public to leave the rescue operation to the experts.

“We are advising people not to touch any birds that they see, dead or alive,” said a DWT spokesman.

“Leave them to the experts as it could be dangerous, both to the birds and humans, to handle them.

“We are advising people to call the RSPCA, who are coordinating the rescue.”

If anyone spots an affected bird or animal they should report the sighting to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

Birds have been washed up along the coast from Lyme Regis to Portland.