A SEARCH operation to find the body of a dolphin in the River Severn was launched from Elmore this afternoon, Thursday.

A crew from Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) was commissioned to try and find the bottlenose dolphin which was spotted by members of Minsterworth Water Ski Club earlier this week.

It is then believed that the dolphin followed fish up the River Severn passing by Severn Beach and Oldbury-on-Severn before last being spotted as far upstream as Stonebench, near Gloucester.

Geoff Dawe, lifeboat operating manager for SARA, explained that although animal recovery was not part of their normal role this was a very special circumstance.

“Our primary concern is the safety is the protection of the public and what with it being the summer holidays we are concerned that kids might see the dolphin and try and get close to it putting themselves in a great deal of danger,” said Mr Dawe.

The crew had planned to search the river until 6pm this evening and if they were still unable to find the dolphin will return tomorrow as well.

According to Mr Dawe when the crew find the dolphin they will move it to the river bank where the Environment Agency will then be responsible for carrying out a post-mortem and disposing of the body.

Around 300-400 bottlenose dolphins, which are a protected species, live in the sea around the UK and a group was known to be living around the South West coast.

It is thought that this individual separated from its pod as part of a process called fission fusion.

Last week it was hoped that the dolphin would find its way back downstream but the dolphin was spotted not far from where it was last seen.