Numbers of common dolphin strandings decrease after 3 month high.

30th Apr 2016

A quick look at the total number of strandings reported to IWDG for the first three months of 2016 show the highest figure ever yet recorded on the strandings database. Between 1 January and 31 March 2016, 91 strandings were recorded in Ireland, up from 68 in the same period in 2015 and 15 more than the previous high of 76 in 2013. As mentioned in previous articles, common dolphins have been the biggest losers with 47 recorded during the three months accounting for 52% of all species recorded, up from 27 records in 2015 and 37 in the previous 'record' year of 2013.

Common dolphin, Streedagh, Co Sligo, 24 February 2016. Don Cotton

In 2013, post mortem results on five common dolphins in Co Mayo confirmed that their deaths were as a result of being bycaught in trawl net fisheries at a time that large supertrawlers were fishing waters north and west of Mayo. While no post mortems were carried out on stranded animals in 2016, visual evidence of bycatch was present in some cases. The numbers of strandings during April have returned to more 'normal' and expected levels. It is interesting that a quick check of the AIS vessel tracking website http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-10/centery:51/zoom:10  shows that these large vessels are no longer fishing off the west of Ireland at the moment. Despite the fact that the winter/spring surge in common dolphin strandings is no longer 'current news', IWDG continues to call for action on this matter on a national and European level to assess the scale of the problem and develop satisfactory mitigation measures so that we don't see the same increase in dead dolphins washing ashore in early 2017.

Mick O'Connell,

IWDG Strandings Officer