A SPECIAL dolphin regularly seen in and around Fairlie and Hunterston has been hailed a scientific marvel - after a recent study found her able to communicate with porpoises in a suspected world first.

Kylie has become a local celebrity after living alone in the Firth of Clyde for more than 17 years.

The animal has never been seen with another dolphin and studies have now been carried to try and discover if she can communicate with her aquatic neighbours.

Results of the investigations by scientists from Strathclyde University and a university in Argentina, alongside Fairlie environmentalist David Nairn, have now uncovered her amazing abilities.

David said: “Kylie had been living on her own for around two decades but was known to associate with different porpoise and porpoise calves.

“We knew there was something a bit funny about her because they would normally never come together up like that, it was really quite rare."

David reveals that once scientists were able to hear and analyse the noise from Kylie and porpoise interactions, it became clear that they can 'talk' to one another.

He explained: “We gathered data on the hydrophone and recorded loads of interactions between porpoises and the dolphin.

“We analysed the different click patterns and sequences of vocalisation and did some modelling.

“It was clear that Kylie had learned different elements of the porpoise communication and was able to interact with them using that.

“We don’t know of any other dolphin anywhere that has been able to do that, it really is a world first for science.”

A report within the study says: “Kylie’s interactions with harbour porpoises have taken place for at least 14 years, time during which she has been exposed to their vocalisations.

“Some of Kylie’s clicks recorded in this study had temporal and spectral characteristics that resemble harbour porpoise clicks.

“The polycyclic waveform and observed shift in energy content cannot be explained by physical phenomenon alone and may represent evidence of production learning."

Sadly, Kylie has not been spotted for over a year following the arrival of the two drill ships at Hunterston.

David explained: “Since the ships turned up she has just disappeared. We have only had a few possible sightings since then.

“That night that the ships came loose would have been horrible for her with tugs all over the place and lots of underwater noise.

“It’s a real shame and hopefully she will make her way back to the area in the coming months now they are gone.”

The full study can be found at www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09524622.2021.1982005.