A dolphin rolling over the waves off Seaburn beach has been spotted by dog walkers.
Passersby first spotted the dolphin about half a mile off the coast at Seaburn yesterday morning at 10.30am.
Dolphins have been spotted in Sunderland before, but it is very unusual especially for this time of year.
Jim Cokill, director at Durham Wildlife Trust, said: "It depends really on what sort of dolphin it was. We definitely do see dolphins on the North East coast but when they come closer to the shore it is quite rare.
"They tend to move up the coast when we get things like the salmon running. It's less common at this time of year but it's not unheard of."
The lone dolphin was spotted by Derek Henderson and his wife Bev, of South Shields, who were walking along the beach yesterday morning with their Golden Retriever, Barney.
"I was a little bit surprised, it seems quite early to see a dolphin," said Derek. "You don't normally get to see them off Seaburn until about May time and even then its rare.
"Barney was running through the water and he stopped as if he'd seen something we were looking out and we saw the dolphin in the distance.
"It was lapping about in the water about half a mile off the shore.
"I've seen them before a couple of years ago, it was around about May time. With it being so early in the year I think it might be quite unusual.
"There was quite a few people that stopped to watch, the dolphin could only have been there about a minute.
"It jumped out of the water when we first saw it and then it was just rolling over the waves."