Shrouded by the sea – The Terrible Truth about Dolphins and Whales Caught in Fishing Gear
An animal welfare problem of major proportions has been uncovered in a new report by WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
The harrowing details of how whales and dolphins slowly meet their death in fishing nets, many suffering extreme injuries in what can be a protracted underwater struggle, are laid out in the report, based on a new investigation by researchers at the University of
WDCS International Director of Science,
As the animal struggles to escape, the gear tightens cutting deeper into the flesh. In extreme cases, fins and tail flukes can be totally or partially amputated. Dead bycaught dolphins are commonly recorded as having broken teeth, beaks or jaws and internal injuries.
Large whales have been found with lacerations deep into their blubber, sometimes to the bone. As they are powerful enough to swim away pulling the gear with them, the rope continues to tighten, resulting in a slow and painful death from infection or starvation.
WDCS calls on governments to act urgently and decisively to end this unacceptable suffering, including changing the way fish are caught and even closing fisheries where there is no way of preventing whale and dolphin bycatch.
In the US, WDCS partnered with the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association and other organisations to develop Masslobster.org. This program supports fishermen using sinking groundline, reducing the amount of line in the water column; this reduces the risk of entanglement for critically endangered Northern right whales.
The repeated chase and encirclement of dolphins in the Eastern Pacific tuna purse seine fishery also causes WDCS concern. Although dolphins are released alive from the nets, the practice causes severe stress and possible long-term health impacts. Lactating females have been found in the nets, with no sign of their calves, which if permanently separated from their mothers, will likely die.
For more information, images, or a copy of the report:
SOURCE Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society