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Risso's dolphin © Nicola Hodgins/WDC
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WDC researchers spot dolphin doing headstands

Researchers from WDC carrying out field work in Scotland have been left puzzled by the sight of a Risso’s dolphin performing underwater 'headstands' - something they have never seen before in the UK.

The dolphin was spotted off the Isle of Lewis repeatedly suspended vertically with his or her nose down, fully underwater.

There have been reports of other species of dolphin in other parts of the world pointing nose down in the water with their tails not submerged, but the drone footage captured by the research team in Scotland is thought to be the first of a fully submerged headstand - and it is baffling the experts!

It is not clear why the Risso's dolphin would do this but the WDC team think he or she may be listening out for the calls from other dolphins nearby, may be resting, or may just be doing this in the same way we humans might - because it is fun.

WDC has been carrying out research off Lewis for many years, studying the behaviour of dolphins there in order to collate information that will help better protect them and their ocean habitat. The work helped with the area being formally designated for marine protection in 2020.

Risso's dolphins are very stocky with blunt heads and no discernible beak. Although they start out in life a grey/olive brown colour, as they get older they get whiter and whiter – a result of numerous scars and scratches inflicted by other Risso’s dolphins and their favourite food, squid! The area off Lewis is visited by large numbers of mothers and calves as it has a good supply of both squid and octopus.

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About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.

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