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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
Risso's dolphin escapes harbour
Risso's dolphin (Janet Baxter)
The Risso's dolphin has a shark-like dorsal fin
A young dolphin which was forced into a Pembrokeshire harbour by a storm could face a battle for survival, a conservationist has said.

The Risso's dolphin - an unusual sight to close to shore - found its way out of Fishguard harbour after being spotted in a confused state on Monday.

Cliff Benson of Sea Trust said it had escaped as a ferry came into dock.

But he said the animal could struggle to survive if it was not reunited with its parents back in the sea.

Mr Benson said it would have been easy for the dolphin and its mother to have become separated in the stormy weather.

Cliff Benson
Sadly it's a possibility it could turn up on a beach either dead or stranded
Cliff Benson, Seatrust

Now that it had managed to find its way out of the harbour, he hoped the mother was somewhere nearby.

"If its mother's not nearby, it'll be on its own, in which case survival could be tricky," he said.

"Sadly it's a possibility it could turn up on a beach either dead or stranded."

When spotted on Monday, there were fears that the dolphin could become disorientated and try to beach itself.

Sightings difficult

"We were worried it would be pushed into the shallow water but fortuitously, the conditions were such that the ferry had to inch its way in," he said.

"This gave the dolphin the confidence to edge its way around and, from what we can tell, it made its way back out to sea."

He said that dolphin watchers would be looking out for any further signs of the animal, although he added that the conditions would make sightings difficult.

Little is known about Risso's dolphins which can be up to 12ft long (3.6m).

They have stocky heads without a beak and are light grey to white with a white chin and extensive scarring.

Mr Benson said the animals, which have a shark-like dorsal fin, were "incredibly enigmatic".

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