|(Cecile Dars, Observatoire Pelagis/CNRS/Universite de la Rochelle via AP)|
But what shocked French marine researchers wasn’t just the brutality of the deaths of these highly intelligent mammals, but the numbers involved — a record 1,100 have landed on France’s Atlantic coast beaches since January.
The mass deaths, widely blamed on industrial fishing, have alarmed animal welfare groups and prompted France’s ecology minister to launch a national plan to protect them.
“There’s never been a number this high,” said Willy Daubin, a member of La Rochelle University’s National Center for Scientific Research. “Already in three months, we have beaten last year’s record, which was up from 2017 and even that was the highest in 40 years.”
Though Daubin said 90 percent of the fatalities resulted from the dolphins being accidentally captured in industrial fishing nets, the reason behind the spike this year is a mystery.
“What fishing machinery or equipment is behind all these deaths?” he asked.
Autopsies carried out on the dolphins this year by La Rochelle University’s National Center for Scientific Research show extreme levels of mutilation.
Activists say it’s common for fishermen to cut body parts off the suffocated dolphins after they are pulled up on the nets, to save the nets.
Read more: https://apnews.com/588690a3f89a45f0abfbb8d97c242cf6