A COASTGUARD team sprang into action amid reports a dolphin was stranded on Barton beach – only to find the stricken creature was, in fact, a rock.
The alarm was raised by a member of the public on the clifftop at Chewton Bunny who believed they saw a dolphin in trouble on the pebbles below at around 4pm on Tuesday.
Coastguard officers from Lymington rushed to the scene and spent about 15 minutes carrying out a search of the shoreline – before confirming the mistaken identity.
A spokespeople for the team said the rock in question had a hole in it, from which water was spouting as it was hit by the waves. He described the incident as a “false alarm with good intent”
He said: “This may have looked like the blowhole on a dolphin to the member of the public who was walking along the clifftop at the time.
“This was a very unusual incident, but there are actually dolphins around our coast – quite a few, I believe, in the Poole area.
“We’ve had a few sightings before. There seems to be a greater number recently than in previous years.”
There have been some genuine sightings of what is known as the common dolphin in the Solent, with conservation group Wild New Forest reporting two in February 2018.
One involved a dead dolphin on the shoreline near Lymington, and another saw two swimming alongside container ships in upper Southampton Water, off Bury Marshes.
Despite the false alarm, members of the public are urged to continue to alert the coastguard by dialling 999 if they believe people or creatures are in peril along the coastline.