Cost of dolphin death horrors
BY ALLAN TUDOR
19th March 2003
The corpses of about 200 dolphins have been washed up on beaches in Devon and Cornwall this winter - leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for removal and disposal.
One of the latest grisly reminders of the winter death toll, laid at the door of commercial fishing for bass, has been found at St Mary's Bay, Brixham.
A juvenile male was washed up over the weekend.
Dolphin campaigner Lindy Hingley, of Brixham Seawatch, said the corpse was very fresh and it may have died over the weekend and been washed in from the Dorset area.
It was bruised and showed other signs of having been caught in a net.
A spokesman for Torbay Council said it costs about £250 to remove each corpse and have them incinerated. "These are not just the things you can toss into the back of a lorry and get rid of easily.
"Fortunately we do not get many of them, as it would be easy to see how the costs would quickly mount up."
South Hams has removed eight dolphin corpses at a total cost of just over £400 in removal costs only. Disposal of the South Hams carcasses falls to Devon County Council.
Since January nearly 200 dolphins and porpoises have been found dead in Devon and Cornwall.
Lindy said the winter death toll has been so great officials are not able to keep up with the clean-up operation and neither can the vets who do post mortem examinations in London.
She said: "The beaches have been littered with the carcasses.
"Councils are doing a good job, but it is very difficult for them to keep up."
It is believed the death toll will ease dramatically once the season for bass pair trawling ends. Lindy wants the image of the tide of death to stay fresh: "I don't want this problem to go away from people's hearts.
"I want people to remember that if this happened in the summer months and we had all these dead dolphins littering our beaches there would be a public outcry, even more so than now."