A SEVERELY stressed female dolphin who couldn't find her missing calf had to be put to sleep on Tuesday morning after becoming stranded at Crombie Point in Fife.

The concerned mum was helped back into the Forth and swam away, after getting stuck on the shore on Monday, but beached again after returning to look for her baby, which had already died.

Despite the efforts of the volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue to save her, it was decided sadly that the dolphin had to be "humanely euthanised".

Paul Smith, Fife co-ordinator for the charity, explained: "Yesterday (Monday) just before midday, the mum and calf became stranded at Crombie Point.

"When we arrived, the calf was sadly found to have died, approximately 500 metres away from the mother, so we focused our attention on the adult female.

"She appeared to be in a reasonable condition, with only a small superficial wound to her rostrum, so after a remote assessment she was deemed fit enough to refloat."

Medics rolled the dolphin onto a tarpaulin carefully and carried her to the water where they rocked her back and forth to readjust her back into her weightless environment.

She swam off and he continued: "We monitored the situation until we lost the light and this morning we received a call that the dolphin had stranded again.

"It was confirmed as the same animal, we had marked it the day before as we knew exactly what we were dealing with, and because it was the second stranding and she was showing severe signs of stress, it was deemed to be unfit for release and was euthanised humanely."

Asked if it was likely the dolphin had come back to look for her calf, and then got stranded, Paul said: "Very probably.

"When we refloated it yesterday it went looking for the calf and it was found this morning near the spot where the calf had stranded, so it's highly likely that's what happened.

"The maternal bond is very strong with dolphins."

He added: "It was always going to be a 50/50 chance it was going to re-strand, judging by its behaviour.

"It was well enough to refloat yesterday but it's what happened during the night, we don't know how long it's been on the beach until it was found this morning.

"It could have been there for several hours before we got there and that's always a factor."

Both dolphins were taken for a necropsy to marine experts working for the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS).

The sei whale that washed up in Dalgety Bay last month was also taken to Glasgow for a post-mortem.

Paul, who is a member of SMASS too, said: "We're still waiting for results on the sei whale.

"It had certainly not fed for a while but we're still waiting on histology and bacteriology which will point to any illnesses or diseases.

"It wasn't in the worst condition I've seen, or the best, but at the rescue we didn't get time to do a full assessment."