Good news emerges in fresh image of badly sunburned dolphin

A couple in Scotland was trying to locate a dolphin-watching spot at the Moray Firth last May when they got lost and stumbled upon the sight of a stranded bottlenose dolphin flopping around on the mudflats of Cromarty Firth.

An outgoing tide trapped the juvenile female dolphin known as Spirtle, which looked “horrific” covered in sunburn and blisters. It was also very weak.

Lorainne Culloch and her partner Mike Robertson called animal services and together they covered the dolphin with wet towels and remained with it overnight until the incoming tide brought in enough water to release it near Nigg.

The couple and volunteers from the Scottish SPCA and British Divers Marine Life Rescue waited 10 hours until finally releasing the dolphin, which officials believed might have been out of the water up to 24 hours.

At that time, scientists and conservationists were unclear whether the dolphin would survive after it was refloated, according to the BBC.

“Her skin had been blistered by the sun, and while this was cause for concern for the vets at first, they said it was something that would heal,” Colin McFadyen of the BDMLR told Metro back then.

As it turned out, he was right.

Two months later, the University of Aberdeen captured a photo (above) of the sunburned dolphin that appeared to show it was recovering from its injuries. The Scottish Marine Strandings Scheme told the BBC the blistering looked “horrific,” but because of the makeup of dolphins’ skin it survived the sunburn whereas other animals might not have.

RELATED: Stranded dolphin ‘took off like a bullet’ after rescue from beach; video

Then this week, Charlie Phillips of Whale and Dolphin Conservation captured an image (at top) of Spirtle babysitting its sister’s calf in the Cromarty Firth. The photo clearly shows the sunburn is healing quite nicely.

Now, officials from the University of Aberdeen and the SMASS, who are monitoring Spirtle’s recovery, are hopeful the dolphin will eventually breed and raise young ones, and hopefully teach them to avoid outgoing tides.

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