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Tragedy as rare striped dolphin dies after washing up on Cornish beach despite the best efforts of beachgoers who tried to refloat the creature in dangerous conditions


  • The dolphin was found at Praa Sands in Cornwall on Saturday, February 17
  • Striped dolphins are warmer-water species usually found in the Bay of Biscay

A rare striped dolphin has been put down after washing up on a Cornish beach because of sea temperatures rising as a result of climate change.

The creature was found on Saturday at Praa Sands in Cornwall, where beachgoers tried to refloat it despite dangerous weather conditions.

Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team was dispatched for human safety supervision, while British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Marine Mammal Medics (MMM) were summoned to respond.

On arrival, medics were able to take control and recovered the dolphin, which was being washed onto the beach by the waves.

It was found to be a striped dolphin, a warmer-water species usually found in the Bay of Biscay.

The striped dolphin was found at Praa Sands on Saturday just after 4pm

The striped dolphin was found at Praa Sands on Saturday just after 4pm

Dan Jarvis, from BDMLR, said: ‘We’re seeing a gradual increase of striped dolphin strandings in the UK because of climate change and sea temperatures rising.

‘In the last 20 years there’s been an increase we see one or two striped dolphin strandings a year and there’s a slight increase in other parts of the UK too.’

Many stranded striped dolphins in the UK have been found in poor nutritional condition with underlying health issues so typically have been put down.

But on this occasion the male dolphin was assessed to be in moderate condition making it a possible candidate to be refloated.

Further assessment showed minor injuries caused by stranding plus some old wounds and it was found to be stressed with a high breathing rate.

It was decided the dolphin had to be moved to Carbis Bay, as that location was the best chance of getting him back out to sea.

Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team was dispatched for human safety supervision, while British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Marine Mammal Medics (MMM) were summoned to respond

Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team was dispatched for human safety supervision, while British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Marine Mammal Medics (MMM) were summoned to respond

By the time the dolphin swam out to sea and everyone was stood down, it was dark.

The next morning MMM were already out searching the area when a call came in of the same dolphin caught up in the surf at Hayle, so a team was deployed with a vet again.

On arrival, the dolphin was brought ashore for reassessment.

This revealed its health had declined and euthanasia would be the best option for its welfare.

Following an efficient and painless procedure, it was taken for post-mortem examination with Cornwall Marine Pathology Team.

Dan said dolphins can strand for a number of reasons including old age, health reasons, getting lost, or human activity like getting caught in marine litter or boat activity.

Throughout the year, Dan said there are half a dozen live dolphin strandings in the South West.

He added: ‘Sometimes these animals just won’t survive, they can’t cope in the sea anymore.’



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