9th February 2006 A new campaign group has been set up to help save dolphins from dying this winter in waters off Cornwall.
The group, calling itself Marine Adventures Falmouth, is being launched at the port's Gyllyngvase Beach next Sunday week and the public is welcome to attend.
In the past few weeks over 30 common dolphins have washed up dead on Cornish beaches, and now Orca Sea-Faris Wildlife Marine Cruises is planning special research trips from Falmouth from this month.
Teams will be accompanied by members and consultants from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), which has received some funding to investigate cetacean - whale, dolphin and porpoise - numbers.
The group will follow procedures previously carried out by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, which had WDCS members on board.
Marine Adventures Falmouth includes Orca Sea-Faris Wildlife Marine Cruises, Sea Fans Scuba Diving School, Seasquirts (snorkelling and rock pooling), Skalybaks (kayaking) and Falmouth School of Sailing.
Every year thousands of dolphins from young adolescents to fully mature breeding females die.
Many show evidence of struggling in fishing nets, and have sustained appalling injuries including broken beaks and jaws.
Suzi Gilpin, a partner and tour guide at Orca Sea-Faris, said: "We know why this has been happening, and it has been going on for the past 15 years.
"The dolphins are trapped and killed in nets dragged at high speeds through the English Channel and Bay of Biscay during December, January, February and March.
"Hundreds more dolphins will die this winter."
Campaigners believe the only way to save the dolphins is to ban this form of fishing until alternative measures have been trialled and researched.
Ms Gilpin said: "We need volunteers to help make a difference.
"We would like them to join us to help monitor what is happening to the dolphin population, record sightings, and observe common dolphins and their newborn calves for scars and net marks.
"We all need help to gather evidence by use of digital photography, video recorders and recording on a special sightings form.
"The common dolphins appear to breed in Cornish waters and the English Channel, and the baby calves stand no chance to develop and thrive without the public's help."
Petitions are available to sign at Orca Sea-Faris (against the Pelagic Pair Trawl fishery) and also available from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. They are encouraging as many people as possible to ask for hand-line caught sea-bass or hand-line caught fish generally.