Lift to sea for stranded dolphin
A dolphin which swam miles up a Welsh river and into English waters is being transported out to sea after it became stranded on sandbanks.
RNLI volunteers from Flint, North Wales, were called to Airbus UK's loading facility, just downstream from Saltney near Chester, Cheshire, at around 11.30am on Thursday morning.
The dolphin - initially named "Dave" by rescuers and then re-named "Davina" after it was identified as being female - had got into difficulty and required help to reach deeper waters.
RNLI lifeboat operations manager Alan Forrester said the volunteer crew located Davina and put her inside a stretcher and then transferred her to the lifeboat.
He said: "The dolphin is a fair size so we'll go at a very slow pace until we reach deeper waters, where we will be met by the Rhyl all-weather RNLI lifeboat."
A representative from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue is with the crew and is closely monitoring the common dolphin.
Mr Forrester said: "She will probably be much too heavy to lift aboard Rhyl RNLI lifeboat so Rhyl will escort us out to sea. The dolphin will be released around the North Rhyl Flats as, if it is set free in any shallow waters, there are fears it will become stranded again."
He added: "It's been a busy summer for the crew across Wales, but this is certainly one of our more unusual rescues. We just hope the job goes smoothly and Davina safely makes it back to where she belongs."
Marine experts think the dolphin, which is usually more at home in the deep seawater of the Bay of Biscay, must have been chasing fish up the River Dee in North Wales.
The disorientated creature was first spotted by the public in Connah's Quay docks in Flintshire, North Wales, on Monday but then swam further up river to Saltney. It carried on up the river and was seen near Chester Racecourse. Locals tweeted pictures of the mammal jumping and flipping out of the water.