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  1. ITV Report

Number of dolphin and whale deaths rise in Cornwall

Female sperm whale stranded at Perran Sands in 2016. Photo: Niki Clear/Cornwall Wildlife Trust

There has been an increase in the number of dolphin deaths in Cornwall over the last year, according to a new report released by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

In 2016, a total of 205 animals, including dolphins, porpoises and whales, were stranded, compared to only 10 in 2015.

There has also been an over 50% increase in their deaths.

The animals stranded off the Cornish coast last year include:

  • 113 short-beaked common dolphins
  • 61 were harbour porpoises.
  • a female sperm whale stranded post- mortem on Perran Sands, north Cornwall
  • a bottlenose dolphin stranded on the Isles of Scilly
  • a minke whale also stranded at Compass Point near Bude.
A common dolphin on Perranuthnoe beach in 2016, taken for a post mortem. Credit: Syd Trudgeon/Cornwall Wildlife Trust
50%
increase in the deaths of whales, dolphins and porpoises in 2016, compared to 2015.

2016 was a busy year, but 2017 is proving just as challenging, if not worse, with over 200 dolphins being recorded to date to our 24 hour Marine Standings hotline.

If we have another bad winter, we will easily overtake the 2016 total, which is a worry to all biologists conserving these special creatures in our waters."

– Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer, Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Animals strand for a number of reasons, including natural causes such as disease.

31 of the 205 stranded were examined post-mortem by the Trust, which found that the cause of death for over a quarter of the animals was due to them being caught in fishing gear.

16% of the animals were attacked and killed by larger bottlenose dolphins.

28%
of animal deaths due to accidentally being entagled in fishing gear.
Minke Whale at Compass Point near Bude being post mortemed in-situ by a vet pathologist in 2016. Credit: Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Seeing this recent increase is extremely worrying and highlights the importance of ensuring this work continues into the future whilst we discover what is happening out at sea."

– Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer, Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Anyone who sees any stranded or dead marine animals is urged to contact the Cornwall Wildlife Trust on the 24-hour hotline: 0345 201226.