A study by the University of Exeter and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation, has revealed a disturbing rise in the number of whales, dolphins and porpoises found dead on Cornish beaches.
The frequency of these mammals, collectively known as cetaceans, found stranded on beaches in Cornwall has increased with a sharp rise in the last eight years. After analysing nearly 100 years of data, the researchers believe this could, in part, be due to more intensive fishing.
The research team analysed records of cetacean strandings from 1911 to 2006 from around Cornwall's north and south coasts and the Isles of Scilly. They found a marked increase from the early 1980s, with common dolphins and harbour porpoises being the worst-affected species. In total, fewer than 50 cetacean strandings a year occurred in Cornwall in the 1980s but numbers since 2000 have ranged from 100 to 250 per annum. The south coast of Cornwall experienced the most strandings, particularly around Mount's Bay (Penzance) and two of South East Cornwall's most popular beaches - Looe Bay and Whitsand Bay.
The researchers analysed records of 2,257 cetaceans, 862 of which were common dolphins. They found that, since 1990, at least 61% of incidents in Cornwall are the result of fishing activity, with animals being caught up in nets in a phenomenon known as 'bycatch'. The seas around Cornwall are known to be a major hotspot for large scale fisheries, with many vessels coming from other EU nations.
They analysed data from a rigorous recording scheme, run by Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Marine Strandings Network, which is backed up by full veterinary autopsies as part of a national programme run by the Zoological Society of London and the Natural History Museum.
Dr Brendan Godley of the University of Exeter's Cornwall Campus said: "Many people were shocked by the recent graphic images of the mass dolphin strandings in Cornwall; the cause of which is still a matter of conjecture. We feel that the important message is that strandings have increased in recent years and that the majority are attributable to bycatch in marine fisheries. This is clearly a major issue that needs to be addressed by all stakeholders from Government and the fishing industry in addition to conservation organisations."
The researchers note, however that their findings could, in part, suggest that there are more cetaceans now living off our coastline, as a result of climate change bringing some animals further north.
Joana Doyle, Marine Conservation Officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust says: "There are several things we need to do in order to safeguard the future of Cornwall's cetaceans. These include establishing a network of Marine Conservation Zones around our coast to protect the species and the habitats they depend on, working closely with the fisheries to develop and test bycatch mitigation measures and pushing for an EU wide ban of pair-trawling for seabass. The strandings and sightings data collected by Cornwall Wildlife Trust is incredibly important for monitoring the status of our cetacean species off the Cornish coast."
Sarah Hoyle | EurekAlert!
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology