Why Are Cetaceans Stranding on Cornwall Beaches?


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“… figures reveal 2017 as a ‘devastating year’ for dolphins and porpoises, with a total of 249 cetaceans recorded as Marine Strandings along the Cornish coastline – the highest recorded since 2003.”

The Cornwall Wildllife Trust desperately wants to raise £16,000 to buy resources and pay for training for volunteers.

It comes as figures reveal 2017 as a ‘devastating year’ for dolphins and porpoises, with a total of 249 cetaceans recorded as Marine Strandings along the Cornish coastline – the highest recorded since 2003.

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Stranded common dolphin at Holywell Bay. Image: Annabelle Lowe

Cornwall sees 20% of all UK strandings, including seals, porpoises, sharks, turtles and rare bottlenose dolphins.

But experts say that only 5-10% of animals dying at sea ever get washed ashore – meaning last year the total off Cornwall could have been closer to between 2,490 and 4,980 individual animals.

Now the charity wants to establish what factors are causing these unusually high numbers of strandings.

They claim that only by analysing the data, together with fisheries and other environmental data, will they then be able to take effective action.

And without this research and the continuing work of the Marine Strandings Network, they believes that many more cetaceans will die.

Ruth Williams, Marine Conservation Manager for the Trust said: “We urgently need to raise £16,000 in order to act effectively now.

“Every donation brings us closer to saving these majestic creatures and your contribution will be greatly appreciated. It’s a heart-wrenching sight to see beautiful animals dead on the beach.”

Cornwall Wildlife Trust developed the Marine Strandings Network over 25 years ago and to date is now the recognised recorder of dead dolphins and other marine wildlife for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

It works under a partnership with the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, coordinated nationally by the Institute of Zoology.

The Network has a Strandings Hotline which is manned by volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive reports of dead dolphins and other marine creatures from the public.

When the Hotline number is called one of the 120-strong volunteer team goes out and records the stranding by photographing and collecting vital data from the dead creature.

They also secure and deliver the suitable carcasses for post mortem examination, to help determine the cause of death and identify threats to their survival.

No other organisation in the UK is doing this work on such a large scale but the trust says they are struggling with a lack of resources – which is why financial help is needed.

Strandings can occur for many reasons that range from infectious diseases, pollution, and starvation to boat strikes.

Based on research to date, among the key local threats are accidental entanglement in fishing nets, known as bycatch, which can be recognised from specific injuries such as encircling marks, cuts to the fins and mouth, and broken beaks.

Some of these threats cannot be helped, but there are simple solutions to others, according to the charity – such as bycatch mitigation in the form of ‘pingers’, which are acoustic deterrent devices on fishing nets.

Nick Tregenza, vice-president of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “Strandings are the main driver of political action on the incidental capture of porpoises and dolphins in fishing gear.

“It’s vital that we get really good data on them, and this project does that”.

So how can you help?

  • £10 will buy one stranding kit for a volunteer
  • £20 will buy one specific bottlenose dolphin and seal sampling kit
  • £150 will pay for one staff member’s time to analyse data against fishing activity and other parameters
  • £360 will provide 1,000 strandings tags for recording carcasses
  • £400 will buy two cameras for evidencing external injuries
  • £1,000 donation would train 20 volunteers to gather accurate evidence

You can text STRA18 £3, £5 or £10 to 70070 now, or online donations can also be made here.

For any strandings, you can phone the hotline on 0345 2012626.

—from pirateFM News



Categories: AtlanticOcean, Dolphins, Marine Mammals, Sharks, Unusual Mortality Event

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