These distressing pictures show a dead dolphin which was found washed up on the side of a river.
The female adult dolphin which was approximately six ft six inches long is believed to have died due to “complications close to giving birth”.
The deceased short-beaked Common Dolphin was discovered by the South Woodham Coastguard Rescue Team after they were called to the River Blackwater, near to Goldhanger, Essex.
They were deployed alongside British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) to recover the animal.
BDMLR received a report about the animal a around 12.50pm on Thursday August 1 when it was seen alive by a man walking along the Blackwater Estuary.
Julia Cable, national coordinator for the service, said: “He called our rescue hotline as he was concerned that the animal was swimming so close to the shore.
“He was shortly joined by two other walkers who helped direct our trained volunteers to the location, ahead of the dolphin stranding.
“Unfortunately between us receiving the initial call and our volunteers arriving on site, the animal stranded and died.
“The dolphin did not appear to have any injuries.”
According to BDMLR, common dolphins would not usually be found in the North Sea and they tend to favour deeper waters, such as the western half of the English Channel and Southern Irish Sea.
A group of four volunteers managed to move the dolphin from the estuary to a safe place in order for it to be collected the following day, Friday August 2.
That day, Matt Perkins from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) retrieved the body.
A post-mortem examination was carried out on the dolphin on Monday August 5.
Mrs Cable said: “The initial findings suggest that the dolphin may have died due to complications close to giving birth.
“This will be confirmed at a later date when other results are back from the samples taken during the post-mortem.
“This could take a few weeks.”