More dead dolphins washing up on Cornish beaches than ever, figures show

Sophie Jamieson
Campaigner Lindy Hingley at Slapton Sands with a rare infant porpoise that was washed up on the beach in a file picture - © Western Morning News /

There has been a sharp rise in the number of dolphins washing up dead on beaches on the south coast of England, figures show.

In the first two months of this year, 125 dolphins were discovered on beaches in Cornwall. That compares to 36 in the same period last year, and 14 the year before. 

The death toll is the highest ever recorded, according to ITV News. 

Campaigners claim the fishing industry are to blame, as dolphins become caught in nets and other gear. Disease and a lack of food are also concerns. Pollution has also bee suggested as a possible reason.

"We have had a huge spike." Ruth Williams, of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, told ITV.

"We are getting a lot of animals close into shore feeding on the feed stock. That means there are more interactions with the fishing fleet.

"There are other causes of death that we are identifying. A lot of animals are undernourished and are starving, and there has been an increase incidence of disease and lower immunity."

Paul Trebilcock of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation said although fishing gear did occasionally interact with dolphins, fishermen had done everything they could to avoid it.

He said it was "unlikely" that fishermen were the reason for the increase.

Rob Deaville, from the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, told the Western Morning News that the organisation was aware of 76 dead dolphins and porpoises in January.

Port-mortems were performed on 13 of them, and five of those showed signs of having been caught in nets, while some others died of natural causes.

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