Alarm as 20 dolphins stranded on Irish beaches in a month

Conservationists and scientists are alarmed at the huge increase in the number of dolphin ‘stranding’ incidents on Irish beaches – as 20 were recovered over the last month. In the past four months the numbers reported to authorities is equivalent to what it should be in a full year, according to marine biologist, Dr Simon Berrow.

A stranded dolphin

A stranded dolphin. Image by Terry Ross / CC BY 2.0

He described the incident rate as “shocking in terms of conservation and management,” the Irish Times reports.

Dr Berrow, who is a prominent member of the Marine Biodiversity Research Group at Galway-Mayo IT (GMIT), was also part of a team which carried out an autopsy on a female killer whale washed up in Co Waterford last week.

Referring to the dolphins, he said there was a massive peak in stranding this year. He added that some of the dolphins had ropes around their tails while other displayed marks after being caught up in fish nets.

He also referred to “10 strandings of the Cuvier’s beaked whale’ which is really rare. Dr Berrow explained that normally there would be one every few years, but Ireland’s incident of 10 was on top of Scotland’s figures where six or seven strandings had been recorded.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) research shows a marked increase in common dolphin strandings over the past five years. There were almost 100 sightings of stranded dolphins two years ago while numbers appear to be on the rise again this year.

The worry for authorities is that Ireland doesn’t have an official post mortem programme which means that often the cause of death remains unidentified.

It means that without examination of carcases, researches don’t know if death is caused by pollution, fisheries interaction or because of some other reason.

There are only about 64,000 common dolphin remaining on European continental shelf waters, according to experts.

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