September 28, 2008

Dead Porpoise Washed Up

Another dead porpoise has been washed up on a South Devon beach - the fourth already in September.

Brixham Seawatch campaigner Lindy Hingley said: "This is quite unusual. The 5ft long female found on the beach at St Mary's Bay is almost full grown, very fresh and pretty healthy with good body weight.

"I'm at a loss to know why it died. There were no signs of being caught in inshore gill nets or any other obvious cause.

"Usually if it is netting, their heads are badly damaged when they are hauled aboard."

Already this month several of the shy bottom-feeders, who behave differently to dolphins, have been reported dead at Beesands, Scabbacombe near Kingswear and Bigbury in the South Hams. Only the Scabbacombe one is thought to be a fishing victim.

More have been found off the Welsh coast throughout September.

A dolphin was also found beached locally at Newton Ferrers a fortnight ago but was washed out on the next tide before she had time to check it over.

Both species drown if held underwater for long periods. Porpoises are smaller and frailer and only last around 15 minutes without air.

Lindy added: "Unfortunately the funds from the Government department Defra for post-mortem examinations have been cut over the past two years. So it means that London Zoo is doing fewer, and the information being collated by the Natural History Museum in their joint scheme is not so useful as it was. We really need to know why healthy mammals are dying.

"It could be toxins or disorientation caused by sonar use. The lack of grants for post mortems is very frustrating."

The latest carcase was spotted by a dog walker from the Upton Manor Farm campsite in Brixham. It will have be disposed of by the Tor bay Council.

Anyone who makes a sighting of whales, dolphins or porpoises is asked to contact Lindy Hingley of Brixham Seawatch on 07712 587799.

(c) 2008 Herald Express (Torquay UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.