Environment: More than 900 dolphins washed up on the Atlantic coast this winter


“The few carcasses that have been examined mostly reveal traces of hunting in fishing gear,” notes the Pelagis Observatory.

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A dolphin is stranded on a Breton beach in Benmarkt (Finistère) on July 28, 2020 (LYDIA FARES / HANS LUCAS / AFP)

At least 910 dolphins have washed up on beaches along the Atlantic coast since mid-December, according to a new count from Pelagie Oceanographic Observatorys, which recorded a new wave “Intense” Over 400 strands over the past week. “about 420 poles of small cetaceans” They were counted on the Atlantic coast between March 10 and 17, including 120 on the weekend of March 11 and 12 alone, which is the number “Unprecedented”detailed Pelagis on Friday 17 March, specifying that these were still censuses “unbound”.

“The condition of the carcasses appears to be very diverse suggesting that drift conditions have brought back to shore dolphins that had died from only a few days to several weeks.”notes Pelagis, who has been recording whale sequences on the Atlantic coast since 1970. “The few carcasses that have been examined reveal mostly traces of hunting in fishing gear.”says the organization that links the CNRS and the University of La Rochelle.

The first wave “Intense” At the beginning of the year, with Over 360 leads registered from mid-December 2022 to the end of January 2023before a relative lull (130 filaments between the beginning of February and the beginning of March), linked according to Pelagis to the conditions of the carcass drift towards the coast “less convenient”. From 2017 to 2020, An average of 850 strands were recorded each winter.

Towards the spatial and temporal closure of some fisheries

The majority of strandings usually occur in February and March, when dolphins come closer to the coast to find their food and therefore have the greatest interactions with fishermen, according to conservation societies. She confronts NGOs and scientists who are calling for a temporary halt to huntingThe government has so far preferred measures to document the phenomenon and technical solutions, such as cameras on board boats or insect repellents on boats.

At the end of February, the general rapporteur of the State Council spoke in favor of establishing within six months the spatial and temporal closure of some fisheries considered responsible for the death of many dolphins. A decision of France’s highest administrative court, which was filed by several environmental associations, is expected soon.


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