Onlookers have been left baffled by the discovery of a spiny seahorse more than half a mile inland in Poole - but an expert says the explanation is more simple than it might appear.

The aquatic creature was found outside Stanley Green First School, Stanley Green Road, about a 15 minute walk from the water.

Founder of The Seahorse Trust, Neil Garrick-Maidment, 54, believes it has been brought in by a seagull who dropped in hope to crack it open to eat. 

He said: "This particular one is quite exciting. It's a female spiny seahorse and we've had records before where seagulls have found them washup on the beach or in the shallows, pick them up, fly up high and drop it onto concrete to try and smash it open so that it can eat its contents.

"We've had observations of them doing it but we've also had quite a few records over the years of seagulls that actually have had seahorses inside."

One of the many surprises over the discovery was its size, with many believing the creature is much smaller. 

Mr Garrick-Maidment said that it is in fact an average size for a spiny seahorse at around 16cm. with larger ones found in the past. 

He said: "We've had them up to 22cm in Studland bay when we've been studying them and they're regularly 16 or 17 cm. 

"We had the biggest seahorses ever recorded in the world off Old Harry Rocks at 28cm."

The spiny seahorse is one of two species that can be found in the area, with the other being the short snout sea horse. 

Mr Garrick-Maidment said it is hard to predict exact numbers in the area.

He said: "It's really difficult to give a population density to be honest. They're listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act because they're considered a rare species. 

"It's not a huge population and that needs desperately protecting and looking after."

Neil has thanked Poole resident Carly Tilsed, who discovered the seahorse and will donate it to the trust to conduct further studies.