A rare striped dolphin had to be put down after it got stranded on a beach in Cornwall.
Volunteers made the dolphin comfortable. Picture: Jan Loveridge
The male dolphin became stuck at Church Cove, Gunwalloe, near Helston.
Trained volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) organisation thought the animal was in good enough condition to be refloated.
But the animal was put down to avoid it suffering further after a large wound was found on its lower jaw, leaving it at risk of a bone infection.
The dolphin was found lying on the beach not far from the surf and was thought to have been stranded on the outgoing tide.
The BDMLR said the mammal looked relatively unscathed at first sight, and volunteers followed their usual procedure of trying to keep the animal as comfortable as possible.
But when its beak was examined, the vet found a flap of skin and underlying tissue had come away, exposing the bone.
BDMLR veterinary coordinator James Barnett said: "If this animal had been released back to the sea with this injury, it is highly likely it would have developed osteomyelitis - infection of the bone - and suffered a great deal.
"The only option was to put the animal to sleep."
Some of the volunteers involved are also members of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Marine Strandings Network (MSN) and they recorded the animal and took photos of it for the Natural History Museum and Institute of Zoology.
They then transported the dolphin to Truro so that a post-mortem examination could be carried out to try to determine why the animal stranded.
"We're really lucky in Cornwall to have two organisations that work so closely together and share a deep concern for dolphins and seals in the county," said Jeff Loveridge of the MSN.
"It's amazing how many people will turn out on a week day to do what they can to help or to learn more about these amazing creatures."
Striped dolphins are acrobatic mammals usually found in tropical and subtropical regions in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.