A dolphin on Sanday, Orkney was saved on Monday morning, in what is believed to be the first successful refloat of an Orca by British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) in the UK.

The mammal was spotted by local residents Colin and Heather Headworth, who found the dolphin stuck in the surf from their house at Bay of Newark, near Tres Ness.

While strandings of Orca do occur, they are incredibly rare.

At 3.4 metres in length, the team believes this was a young male Orca of around 3 to 4 years of age, and therefore no longer maternally dependent.

Orca are seen fairly regularly around Orkney and in fact, the North Isles 27s pod were seen nearby off Elsness, Sanday on Christmas Day as they hunted seals.

HeraldScotland: Photos: Emma Neave-Webb and Imogen Sawyer.Photos: Emma Neave-Webb and Imogen Sawyer.

The BDMLR team on Orkney were alerted and on arrival to the stranding site, found the animal was in fact a young orca in good condition - but lying on its side in the surf parallel to the sea with the tide quickly coming in.

Local residents were called upon to assist, with the team working to up-right the animal to aid breathing and ensure the blowhole was out of the water. 

As the tide came in, medics were able to rotate it to face the incoming sea and slowly move the new dolphin stretcher under the animal.

It was successfully submerged after rolling a couple of times and set off towards open sea.

In a statement posted to the BDLMR facebook page, it read: "After monitoring for an hour, medics were confident the animal was no longer in the location and are hopeful it will stay out.

"We will be monitoring the coast over coming days just in case."

It went on: "We'd like to thank Medics Russell Neave and Imogen Sawyer, and Sanday residents Colin and Heather Headworth, Cath Swift and Simon Oldfield, Anna Halford and Martin Sawyer for all your assistance as well as HM Coastguard for advice.

HeraldScotland: Photos: Emma Neave-Webb and Imogen Sawyer.Photos: Emma Neave-Webb and Imogen Sawyer.

"Also, a huge thanks to every who has supported us recently and enabled us to purchase much needed dolphin stretchers. This was their first outing and highlighted how important this kit is. We really would not have been able to refloat an animal of this size without them."

The team suspects this particular Orca is not part of the North Isles resident pods, but are confident that as a juvenile who appeared to have been feeding recently, will be able to survive. 

"More personal safety kit is desperately needed to aid with rescues and ensure safety of those assisting", the team added.

If you would like to donate to the team, you can do so here.

HeraldScotland: Photos: Emma Neave-Webb and Imogen Sawyer.Photos: Emma Neave-Webb and Imogen Sawyer.