YOU may not be able to swim with dolphins off Dorset's Jurassic Coast, but if you keep your eyes open you can certainly see them.

Bottlenose dolphins have been spotted already this year, with pods of up to 12 animals recorded during April from Durlston Head.

Sailors and walkers are urged to keep a lookout and send in their sightings of dolphins, whales and porpoises to the Sea Watch Foundation.

The marine conservation charity and research organisation wants as many people as possible to join its National Whale and Dolphin Watch, which is held every year in August.

Anyone can take part by sending in their reports or visiting manned watches at key look-out points around the coast.

During last year's watch, 576 sightings were sent to the charity, providing vital data for its research into the numbers of marine mammals in British waters and the effects of rising sea temperatures, fishing and pollution.

"I think many people are under the impression that you have to travel across the world to see dolphins, but that is not the case," said Jo Wharam from the Durlston Marine Project, Swanage.

"This latest pod of eight bottlenose dolphins first arrived here in 2001 with a calf, and in 2004 they returned with another calf, which means they are a successful breeding group."

The 2006 watch will take place from August 12-20 and manned watches will be held at Durlston Country Park.

Times and dates of events during the week will be published on the Sea Watch website, where there will be a guide to identifying whales and dolphins.

The scheme is sponsored by British Gas, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Defra.