The Sad Reason This Dolphin Got Sunburn (Plus Photos of Her Recovery)

Last May, Spirtle the dolphin had the worst day of her life. She had just stranded on a beach in Cromarty Firth, Scotland, where she lay beneath the beating rays of the sun for nearly 24 hours, developing such severe sunburn under the intense heat that her skin literally burned off.

Luckily, a couple attempting to find a dolphin-watching spot had gotten lost while driving and spotted Spirtle baking in the heat, the BBC reports. She was in such bad shape that most researchers thought she wouldn’t make it, but they floated her back out into the water anyway.

Over the last year, researchers from the University of Aberdeen have monitored Spirtle’s healing progress from afar, and they are stunned by her recovery.
 

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Her sunburn was initially so severe that a huge swath of her back had been reduced to pink, raw skin.

dolphin sunburn
Photo Credit; University of Aberdeen

 

But now, her own gray skin has begun to reform over the wound, which soon became nothing more than a narrow brown strip on her back.

dolphin sunburn
Photo Credit; University of Aberdeen

 

As of this May, Spirtle is back has almost completely reformed over the wound, with just splotches of white skin over tiny pockets of pink.

dolphin sunburn
Photo Credit; University of Aberdeen

 
The scientists have been photographing Spirtle — who’s incredibly easy to see now, for obvious reasons — from Cromarty’s Lighthouse Field Station.

Spirtle’s mom, Porridge, has also been photographed doing well and swimming alongside her daughter.
 

So while the researchers never thought Spirtle would survive, they now believe the little resilient dolphin may go on to raise babies of her own.

dolphin sunburn
Photo Credit; University of Aberdeen

 

So when life gets you down, just think of Spirtle — the most resilient dolphin we know!

dolphin sunburn
Photo Credit: WDC/Charlie Phillips