WALKERS and beachgoers are being asked to look out for distressed seabirds who may have fallen victim to a mystery pollution incident.

Swanage Coastguard raised the alert after a guillemot and a razorbill were found 'drowning' in the waves off Swanage after a 'waxy, yellow substance' smothered their feathers.

The birds - which were being attacked by seagulls - were retrieved by the Swanage Coastguard which then patrolled the beach there and at Studland to ensure no other birds were suffering.

The creatures were taken to the Chance Wildlife Rescue in Purbeck which is still caring for them.

Chance's Claire Richards said: "This waxy stuff messes with their waterproofing and they can't get dry, they are literally saturated so they get cold and they can't fish."

She said her sanctuary's priority was to keep the birds warm and allow them to dry out. "Then we need to see that their insides are OK and they haven't been poisoned," she said.

The birds are being fed sprats to keep their strength up before they are moved on to the RSPCA for a proper clean.

"Cleaning and baths can be very stressful for them so they need to be in better condition before it happens," said Claire.

She praised the Swanage Coastguard and urged people to report the birds to them to to Chance Wildlife Rescue.

Claire fears there may be more feathery casualties as similar incidents affecting seabirds have been reported on the Isle of Wight and as far away as the Witterings in West Sussex over the weekend.

Two birds have already died on the Island after being washed up on Shanklin beach at the weekend with further casualties over the past few days.

IOW wildlife rescuer Kay Ounsworth said: "Please stay alert. We have no idea where this sticky stuff is. Although presumed a little way out at sea, any animal could be at risk if coming into contact so please report anything suspicious on the beach or floating in the water."

* Chance Wildlife Rescue on 07795296887