In a tragic incident, a lifeless dolphin was found washed up on the shores of Cornwall, having succumbed to injuries caused by a boat’s propeller.In a tragic incident, a lifeless dolphin was found washed up on the shores of Cornwall, having succumbed to injuries caused by a boat’s propeller. The common dolphin was stranded with horrific injuries from a boat strike in the St Austell Bay area this morning.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust was called by a member of the public who saw the dolphin washed up on Porthpean Beach.
The dolphin’s death comes ahead of the busy Easter bank holiday weekend and Cornwall Wildlife Trust is urging tourists to act responsibly.
Marine conservation officer Abby Crosby, said the “devastating” stranding is why people are being asked to take care on the water.
“Wildlife disturbance by sea users, whether a boat, jet ski, kayak or even a SUP (stand-up paddleboard), has become one of the greatest threats to our marine and coastal wildlife and it has to stop.
“What is more – we all have the ability to stop it by changing our behaviour at sea and we need to do so urgently,” she added.
A post-mortem of the dolphin is yet to be carried out, but a veterinary pathologist has confirmed its injuries were from a boat strike – which is the likely cause of its death.Cornwall’s marine ecosystem is vibrant, but is increasingly at risk of human intervention.
Dolphins like this one, along with nesting seabirds, internationally rare Atlantic grey seals and basking sharks have all been affected by recreational and commercial water users.
A report by the Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group found disturbance reports increase across the summer months every year – from February to August, with spikes in both July and August.
This coincides with the peak visitor season in the county who use Cornish waters recreationally.
The research also showed that these incidents had tripled from 2014 to 2021 – rising to 371.
Sports such as paddleboarding and canoeing pose a particular risk as they are able to access sites for marine creatures with little noise, and then can disturb them.
Disturbance and harassment can cause severe distress and at worst can lead to serious injuries, amputations and death.
Whether intentional or not, incidents of disturbance or harassment of whales or dolphins is an offence under UK law, with fines of up to £5,000.
A guide on how water users can lessen their impact on the wildlife they spot is called the Coastal Code of Conduct.
Abby said: “Today is a sad day, but from it I hope we can get people’s attention and bring about change for a more positive future for these creatures.
“Please think about your actions when you are by, on or in the sea this Easter. Put wildlife first and be a part of the solution for conserving these special animals for generations to come.”
Anyone who witnesses a marine disturbance incident is urged to report it with any photographs or videos to the 24-hour marine disturbance hotline.