SINCE November 7, Dorset Wildlife Trust has been made aware of reports that a number of dead dolphins and porpoises have been washed up on beaches across Dorset this winter.

The cause of death is unknown, but could be a result of the large waves, strong winds and big swells that tend to occur this time of year.

These can then wash many carcasses of animals such as dolphins ashore.

The Dorset Wildlife Trust are urging for people to report these incidents as soon as possible to enable organisations to assess and record the carcass before it decomposes.

This may involve experts from the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) to undertake a post-mortem examination to try to determine the cause of death.

DWT’s Chesil Centre Officer, Sarah Hodgson, said: "There are many reasons that could cause these animals to die, either simply due to natural causes or as a result of human activity such as by-catch from commercial fisheries, entanglement from ghost fishing-gear or pollution.

"However, without in-depth examinations we can only speculate."

The majority of the discovered strandings have been either Common Dolphins or Harbour Porpoises, but a rare White-beaked Dolphin, measuring over 9 feet in length, was recently discovered at Hallelujah Bay on Portland.

Sarah added: "Whilst it is unusual to see a White-beaked Dolphin, we are aware that there is a small population of these dolphins which are resident in Lyme Bay. We have passed details and photos to MARINElife who have been researching this local population."

The recent strong southwesterly winds have also brought in a number of Portuguese Man O’War which typically reside in the open Atlantic Ocean.

Over the weekend of January 11 and 12, six have washed up on beaches across Dorset.

Portuguese Man O'War's are floating colonies formed by coral-like hydroids which together create the bubble-like float and long, venom-filled stinging tentacles, which can reach 10 to 30m long.

Despite their fascinating appearance, a Portuguese Man O'War can deliver very powerful stings from its tentacles.

Dorset Wildlife Trust advise that if you find a Portuguese Man O'War, do not touch one as they can still sting when dead.

They also encourage anyone who finds a marine mammal washed up to report it as soon as possible by calling 01305 264620 or emailing

Including a photograph is helpful, as long as you do not touch the marine mammal.

Once reported to the Dorset Wildlife Trust, a representative will be able to complete a strandings report to send to CSIP for their national database and to potentially initiate further investigation.