Whale, dolphin and porpoise strandings in the UK have more than doubled in the last 10 years.
Statistics from a new report, Out of the Blue, reveal the dramatic increase in the number of strandings, particularly in the last five years, and highlights the top ten sites, or hotspots, where strandings consistently occur.
Published by the Natural History Museum, Out of the Blue also calls on members of the public to help monitor key coastal areas by reporting sightings to the UK Whale & Dolphin Stranding Scheme at the Natural History Museum.
‘The help of individuals in reporting strandings, both on land and at sea, is vital to our research. In identifying key areas of the UK we hope that people will be particularly vigilant in these areas and help the work of the UK Whale & Dolphin Stranding Scheme,’ commented Richard Sabin, UK Whale & Dolphin Stranding Scheme co-ordinator.
Marine strandings occur for a number of reasons, including sickness, disorientation, natural mortality, extreme weather conditions or injury. Recently bycatch - the accidental capture of animals in fishing nets - has also been identified as one of the main causes of death.
‘Only a small percentage of the total number of dead dolphins and whales are washed up on our shores so the recent dramatic increase in strandings represents a much larger number of deaths,’ Richard Sabin says.
Cornwall has the highest number of reported strandings each year for the UK. The Outer Hebrides has the highest number for Scotland, and in Wales, Gwynedd has the most strandings.
The top ten areas that record consistently high numbers of strandings are:
Anyone finding a stranded dolphin, whale or porpoise should report it immediately (details below), taking great care when approaching stranded animals because of possible disease transmission.
All stranding information is collated and entered into the Natural History Museum's National Strandings database, which is then used to help increase our understanding and aid survival of UK marine mammals.
Live stranded animals should be reported to:
Dead stranded animals should be reported to: