A RARE 'sea heart' was discovered on a Dorset beach after making an incredible trans-Atlantic journey.

The sea bean (Entada gigas), also known as a drift seed, was found at Lulworth Cove by one of the rangers on Wednesday. It is only the second sea heart to be discovered on the beach in three years.

The seed is likely to have travelled for more than 6,000 miles, all the way from the tropical Americas.

Jim Gale, of the Lulworth Estate ranger team, said: "It could very well have begun its journey hundreds, if not thousands of miles inland.

"Having dropped into a tributary, perhaps Amazonian, the bean then made its way down a river system and into the southern Atlantic. Currents took the bean north and then the Gulf Stream would have propelled it across the Atlantic, into the English Channel and straight into Lulworth Cove, perhaps during the stormy weather of late.

"It could have been in the sea for well over a year."

The Entada gigas produces the largest legume in the world, which produces the interesting heart-shaped seeds. The seeds stay afloat in the water and have a very hard shell, allowing them to drift thousands of miles by sea.

Mr Gale added: "Very few are found nationally each year.

"When they do, they normally turn up on southern and western beaches of the UK. North Devon and Cornwall as well as western Ireland get the lions' share. To find one on the south coast is very rare."