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Tragic theory on UK's biggest mass dolphin stranding in a decade

Tragic theory on UK's biggest mass dolphin stranding in a decade

Published by Emma Carton at 6:37am 18th September 2018. (Updated at 9:21am 18th September 2018)

Experts think a pod of dolphins stranded off Cornwall could have swam close to shore to protect a baby and its mum, that tragically died.

Two off-duty firefighters from Kent managed to re-float eight of the 11 creatures in difficulty at Godrevy, but three did not make it.

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A mum and its calf are among three dolphins dead after a mass stranding on Godrevy beach in west Cornwall

One theory is that either the mum or its calf were sick and the others followed because of the close bond between common dolphins.

Monday's incident is being described as the UK's biggest mass stranding in 10 years and a post mortem is being carried out.

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Experts think the rest of the pod may have followed the mum and its calf towards the shore because one was already sick

Last year, 250 dolphins and porpoises died after getting stranded on Cornwall's beaches; that is the second highest number ever recorded.

In this case, around 30 volunteers from British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Marine Stranding Network made sure the pod did not return to shore.

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British Divers Marine Life Rescue has praised the off-duty firefighters who managed to re-float eight of the dolphins

"It's not often that this happens, not like this, it's exceptionally unusual that this many would be stranded at any one time.

"What's most likely happened is the calf or the mum were sick and because of the strong emotional bond that's between common dolphins the rest of the pod likely swam to shore in a bid to help and then got stranded themselves, even though health wise there was nothing wrong with them originally.

"Common dolphins are an offshore species with very strong social bonds, they struggle on their own and much like we do as people risk their own lives when their young are in danger.

"The eight that were re-floated, circled the area for about 2-3 hours before moving on and hopefully recovering from the ordeal".

Dan Jarvis, British Divers Marine Life Rescue

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A post mortem is being carried out to try to work out what caused the mass stranding at Godrevy beach in Cornwall

"BDMLR would like to thank all medics that attended this major incident. It was the largest mass stranding of common dolphins in the UK since the incident in the Fal Estuary, Cornwall, in June 2008 that involved over 70 animals, almost all of which were successfully refloated and herded out of the river system from multiple locations and out to sea.

"We would also like to thank the CWT Marine Strandings Network volunteers for their support with carcass recording and retrieval, the local National Trust staff for their support and of course the two off-duty firemen who alerted us to the incident and for their huge efforts to get the surviving dolphins back in so quickly".

British Divers Marine Life Rescue

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British Divers Marine Life Rescue is urging anyone who spots a stranding to call its emergency hotline on 01825 765546

BDMLR is a national charity with trained volunteers around Britain that are ready to respond to cetaceans and seals in distress.

If you find an animal of concern, please call its 24hr hotline on 01825 765546 for expert advice on what to do and what not to do.

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