On Saturday the 26th of June three Atlantic white-sided dolphins swam up the Effirth voe in Shetland and became trapped by the low tide behind a couple of sand banks. Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) are a robust and impressively patterned species. They are identified by the black back with a narrow white patch running from below the dorsal fin, and a yellow blaze above a thin dark stripe running towards the flukes. The jaw and belly are white, and a black ring around the eye extends to the upper jaw and leading edge of the flipper. This species is generally found in the deep Atlantic waters all year round. In the UK coastal waters, large numbers occur particularly between July and September.
A voe is a narrow inlet or small bay, and many were carved into Shetland during the last Ice Age. White sided dolphins sometimes go into the Weisdale voe which has a much more direct route back to the ocean. The Effirth voe, however, is not as dolphin friendly because it is long convoluted and shallow.
The following day, the two smaller dolphins were still seen in the shallow waters between Bixter and Effirth, but there was no sign of the larger individual. By Tuesday there was no sign of the dolphins at all, suggesting that the animals have successfully found their way out back to sea.