The laboratory at Plymouth was notified of the capture of five dolphins in a commercial trawl on 9 December 1982, three of the specimens were living and therefore immediately released. The remaining two were brought to the laboratory, identified as Delphinus delphis Linnaeus, 1758, their size and sex were recorded and the stomachs removed for examination of their contents. The exact location of capture was not recorded, but is known to be within 40 miles of Plymouth.
Reports of strandings of D. delphis collected by the British Museum (Natural History), (Harmer, 1914–27; Fraser, 1934, 1946, 1953, 1974) and more recent recorded sightings (Evans, 1980) show that the common dolphin is clearly not rare in British waters. Although the species has been recorded off all British coasts, sightings and strandings are concentrated off the south and south-west coasts of Britain and Ireland. The variation in their numbers and distribution both during this century and on a seasonal basis each year has been accounted for mainly by the fluctuation and movement of their food supply (Evans, 1980; Sheldrick, 1976).