Mutilated Dolphins Wash Up on UK Beaches

Conservationists are in a panic over the increasingly large numbers of mutilated sea mammals appearing on British shores.

Image by Kiwi Sonja

28 dolphins and porpoises have been found dead on southwest England’s beaches since the new year, compared to 80 during all of 2007. Conservationists blame the increase in deaths on a delay in introduction of a sonar device that keeps the animals away from highly fished areas.

Evidence suggests the animals are being slaughtered after getting caught in commercial fishing nets. Several have had their stomachs cut open to aid them sinking, while others have had fins or tails removed to get them free of nets more quickly and even more show cuts from nets on their bodies.

Wildlife experts think that the deaths may be even more common than the washed-up bodies suggests. Mark Simmons of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said: “It is a horrid way for these dolphins to die and you can see that when they come ashore. Fishermen are getting more adept at hiding the evidence and what we see on land is only a proportion of the problem.”

Although the animals are not endangered species, they are protected by the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. The law, however, does not apply to “bycatch”, or animals caught accidentally in fishermen’s nets.

Recent EU legislation requires the use of sonic devices attached to boats that ward off the sea mammals while fishing occurs, but the English government has yet to enforce the use of the $120 devices.

Info from Telegraph