What's Killing Britain's Dolphins? Fishing Nets, for One Thing

By Andrew Moseman | July 8, 2008 12:37 pm

Trawlers may be killing Britain’s dolphins.When we wrote about the rash of dolphin deaths in Cornwall, England last month, it seemed like a sad aberration. But now British scientists are saying that dolphins and other cetaceans like porpoises have been dying at a dramatically higher rate this decade, and they are pointing the finger at trawler fishing as the main culprit.

According to the British study, only about 50 cetaceans washed up in Cornwall per year during the 1980s, but in the 2000s that number has risen to between 100 and 250. Brendan Godley from the University of Exeter says that at least 61 percent of the cetaceans found in Cornwall had been caught in fishing trawler nets and died.

The Times of London reports that some fishermen, upon catching dolphins, have cut the creatures’ stomachs open so that they sink to the bottom of the sea and the fishermen don’t get in trouble for killing a protected species. If that’s true, than these already troubled sea creatures are dying off faster than anyone even realized. Still, scientists can’t say whether fishing was or wasn’t the cause of last month’s dolphin massacre.

Image: flickr/EdTarwinski


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