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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Yachtsman rescued from whale pod
Bottlenose dolphin
Bottlenose dolphins often interact with boats
Coastguards in Devon have rescued a man who claimed his boat was being surrounded and bumped by whales.

The rescue was co-ordinated by Brixham Coastguard on Monday evening after they were alerted by a yachtsman whose boat had suffered a complete power failure.

Rescue equipment on board, including a VHF radio, meant rescue teams were able to find him and bring him to shore.

But Lindy Hingley from Brixham Seawatch says the boat was more likely to have been surrounded by bottlenose dolphins.

I'd put money on it being my group of dolphins
Lindy Hingley, Brixham Seawatch

Ms Hingley, who monitors whales and dolphins in the area, says a sighting of a group of six bottlenose dolphins was reported on Saturday off Prawle Point.

She said: "I'm certain it wouldn't have been whales, because they tend to steer clear of boats.

"Bottlenose dolphins are very big and dark and can be about 12ft to 14ft. I know this group very well and they're all big."

Ms Hingley says the dolphins are inquisitive, outgoing and brave and enjoy going up to boats to interact.

"I obviously can't prove it, but I'd put money on it being my group of dolphins which surrounded the man's boat," she said.

Killer whale

Gavin Black, a marine specialist with the Devon Wildlife Trust, says there has been an unusual amount of sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises in South West waters this year.

He said: "There was an incident about 10 years ago where a humpback whale appeared to be trying to get on a yacht.

"Certainly that was off the coast in Queensland in Australia. They are rarely seen in the UK, but we have had a lot of sightings this year and we've even had one of a killer whale."

Mr Black says pilot whales are quite often seen in local waters and so tend to swim together in pods.

"Without knowing more details, I couldn't really say for sure, but it's not impossible," he said.

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