A DOLPHIN sighted swimming in the Dee Estuary was last night heading towards open water.
After failing in its first bid to reach the sea, the wayward mammal, nicknamed ‘Dave’, as said to be “heading in the right direction”.
Garry Jones, of Flint Coastguard, said “absolutely hundreds of people” had gathered to see the dolphin.
Speaking last night as the Leader went to press, Mr Jones raised concerns about people’s safety near the water.
“We are just going to wind it down now,” he said.
“We would like to urge people not to go into the water. We have had to stay here all day because of the crowds.
“At one time we had over 300 people here. It has been like a carnival-like atmosphere.”
Mr Jones said at one point people even got in the water near Hawarden railway bridge.
He added: “We hope it will be successful in returning to the sea tonight.
“People are walking along parts of the river following it and our concern is their safety.
“The river banks can be muddy and slippery so we urge people to take care.”
The dolphin was first spotted on Monday evening near Connah’s Quay docks.
It made its way back up river to Saltney Ferry and then on to Chester but its bid to return to the sea ended in disappointment on Tuesday.
It swam tantalisingly close to its target, only for incoming tidewaters to scupper its efforts four miles out.
Speaking yesterday afternoon, Stephen Marsh, a spokesman for British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: “The dolphin is between Saltney Ferry and Chester Racecourse and it is still showing a lot of strength.
“There are strong tides at the moment and maybe a tidal bore restricted the dolphin’s progress on Tuesday night.
“It appears to be feeding well and has plenty of muscle power so we are hopeful it will be able to succeed with its next attempt.”
Mr Marsh said the common dolphin is capable of reaching speeds up to 35mph but said he was unable to estimate the age of the mammal which may have lost its bearings after chasing fish from the Irish Sea and become confused by the tidal system.
He also said the gender of the dolphin had not been determined, meaning Dave could indeed be Davina, despite efforts made by locals to name it.
For now, however, should ‘Dave’ become stuck on a sandbank, Mr Marsh said it would be picked up and checked by the coastguard before being moved to deeper water in the estuary.
Tom McGovern, of conservation community interest company Wild Area, helped nudge the dolphin off a sandbank on Tuesday after it became stuck.
He said: “Sometimes things like this can take a few days.
“It appears to have been pushed back by the 11pm tide on Tuesday. It’s something of a cat and mouse game at the moment.”