A dolphin that was washed ashore in Dorset tangled in fishing rope has been rescued by a sailor who swam with the creature to guide it back out to sea.
The dolphin struggled to breathe at first
The dolphin, which was struggling to breathe, was found beached in Swanage Bay by local residents on Sunday.
Coastguards cut the rope from its tail before Mike Cemm, a member of the nearby sailing club, got into the water in a wet suit to help the animal.
Mr Cemm swam with the creature into the bay to guide it back into deeper water.
He had just returned from a sailing trip. "At first it was gasping for breath," he said.
"I think it was very tired, the rope had just been cut away from its tail by the Coastguard."
Mr Cemm tried three times to coax the dolphin into swimming out to deeper water.
"The first time it circled round on its side for about five minutes, like when a fish goes out of water," he said.
"The second time it did the same but for longer."
On the third attempt Mr Cemm swam with the creature until he was out of his depth.
Mike Cemm swam with the dolphin to guide it back out to sea
"Its tail was flexing much more and it seemed to have got its breath back," he said.
"Its fin was upright and it looked like it was going to be alright," he added.
He said the dolphin seemed to have scrapes and abrasion wounds from the rope.
The RSPCA and the Durlston Marine Project were consulted throughout the rescue, which took about half an hour.
Three Coastguards vans attended when a crowd of about 200 people gathered to watch.
The dolphin was last seen swimming towards Old Harry Rocks.