At least 910 dolphins have been found dead on beaches in France since the start of the winter, a marine institute reported Friday. Most dolphins were killed by fishing nets or boats.
France’s Atlantic coast has seen an alarming increase in dolphins washing up dead on its shores. According to a report by the observatory for marine megafauna, Pelagis, at least 910 dolphins have washed up on the coast so far. Pelagis monitors the status of populations of marine mammals in the area.
The number is exceptionally high for the last week, as over 400 dolphins were found stranded on the coast, according to Pelagis, calling it an “unprecedented” number.
Most of the dolphins showed injuries associated with being caught in fishing nets or boat engines. Early examinations revealed that some had been dead for several days and others for several weeks.
Between 2017 and 2020, the average number of dead dolphins on beaches during winter was 850, indicating a worrying trend of increasing numbers of dolphins dying due to human activity in the area.
February and March are particularly dangerous months for dolphins as they tend to move closer to the coast in search of food and are more likely to come into contact with fishing operations.
Some animal welfare organizations and scientists have called for a temporary halt of fishing in February and March, but the government has instead opted for solutions aimed at minimizing the impact of industrial fishing on dolphins.
These government solutions include onboard cameras or repellents to keep dolphins away from fishing equipment.
However, in February, the commissioner of the State Council, France’s highest authority in government matters, came out in favor of a temporary ban on certain types of fishing in some locations responsible for many dolphin deaths. The Council is expected to make a formal decision soon.