Concern at record porpoise deaths
Western Morning News
21st January 2004
The Westcountry coastline has been littered with an unusually high number of dead porpoises so far this year, scientists warned yesterday.
A total of 35 have been recorded in Devon and Cornwall in the first three weeks of this year by scientists from the Natural History Museum's National Whale Stranding Scheme.
The number of porpoise strandings in the region is already double last year's total figure of 15 for the whole of January 2003. Porpoise deaths this year currently exceed the number of dolphin deaths, reversing the normal trend.
Richard Sabin, the scheme's coordinator for the museum, said: "The unusually high number of porpoise deaths is unprecedented and is the highest January total since recording for the National Whale Strandings Programme began in 1918.
"Stormy weather and winds blowing in from the sea are among several factors affecting the number of dolphin and porpoise carcasses washed up on the shore.
"Where possible, carcasses considered suitable will be recovered for post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death."
The scheme records all whales, dolphins and porpoises stranded in UK waters to build up a picture of species distribution, age and sea profiles, when and where strandings occur. It is now the centre of a co-ordinated investigation into biology, ecology and causes of death, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The museum has asked the public to report all strandings as quickly as possible to either the Natural History Museum's National Whale Strandings Scheme on 0207 942 5155 or Cornwall Wildlife Trust (0845 2012626) or Devon Wildlife Trust (01392 279244).