A DOLPHIN washed up on Westward Ho! was most likely to have been killed in a fishing net, according to experts.

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The common dolphin was spotted by Carol Halling, from Torrington, when she went for a walk on the beach on Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs Halling said: “It was around 3pm when we found it, just to the right of the lifeguard hut when you are looking out to sea.

“The poor thing had marks on its head and mouth and looked like it may have been caught in a fishing net.”

The dolphin’s body was picked up by the Natural History Museum on Thursday and a post mortem was carried out by the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme this weekend.

The results of the post-mortem are not currently known.

Project manager Rob Deaville said: “Including this one, there have been five reported strandings of common dolphins so far in Devon this year.

“Last year we had 10 reported and managed to carry out post-mortems on five of them; one was a by-catch of fishing, two were live strandings and two were boat strikes.”

A spokesman from the Marine Conservation Society said: “It is difficult to say with any certainty what might have happened to the unfortunate animal.

“There are scratch marks down the sides which could indicate it being caught in a net, but could equally have happened through impact on rocks after death.

“There is some marking around the mouth which again could indicate a net, but the same thinking applies really.”

Anyone who spots a stranded marine animal can call 0800 6520333.

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