[MARMAM] Mortality event of common dolphins and bycatch evidences

Observatoire PELAGIS pelagis at univ-lr.fr
Tue Feb 21 07:27:52 PST 2017

Dear All,

SinceFebruary3rd, almost200 smallcetaceanswerefound stranded along the 
French Atlantic coast, between the Loire and Gironde estuaries (45°N – 
47°N). 98% of the recorded stranded animals were common dolphins. Most 
of them were examined by Observatoire PELAGIS or members of French 
stranding network (Reseau National Echouage or RNE).Observatoire PELAGIS 
conducted 68 extensive examinations, and 85% of examined carcasses 
showed evidences of incidental capture in fishing gears. These evidences 
included broken beaks, cut-off fin or tail fluke, external net marks, 
and agonic froth in lungs. These animals were in good body condition and 
health status (overall no pathological lesions), and displayedfull 
stomach contents. The decomposition codes were from fresh to moderate, 
suggesting that time after death was from 3-10 days prior to reporting: 
i.e. during the last two weeks of January.

The “Leiv” and “Marcel” storms that occurred on February 3rd and 5th 
along the French coasts seemingly provided suitable drift conditions 
that accelerated the stranding of already drifting bycaught common 
dolphin carcasses in a shorter time frame.

Since the 90’s, seven similarly extreme mortality events were recorded 
by RNE along the French Atlantic coast. Observer programs on French 
pelagic trawlers revealed the specificity and intensity of common 
dolphin bycatch.

More information on our website (in french).


Observatoire PELAGIS
University of La Rochelle / CNRS

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