Saturday, June 14, 2008

Was the Navy responsible for the stranded dolphins?

The death of dolphins in Cornwall has been likened to a "mass suicide" by a pathologist who examined their bodies.

Vic Simpson said the dolphins had swallowed a large amount of mud but tests revealed no signs of disease or poisoning.

"On the face of it, it looks like some sort of mass suicide - but the question is why?" she told local newspaper the Western Morning News."The dolphins had swallowed and inhaled big chunks of mud from the estuary. Their lungs and stomachs were full of it. That is very bizarre indeed."We have seen strandings on beaches, sometimes with five to seven dolphins - but never on a scale like this."

It comes as it emerged that the Royal Navy was carrying out live firing exercises hours before the 26 dolphins died.

Marine experts now believe the mammals may have been panicked by an "underwater disturbance".

Up to 40 dolphins were found beached at four spots around Falmouth Bay, Cornwall, on Monday in one of the UK's worst cases of mass stranding.

Yesterday, the MoD said that several ships and a submarine had taken part in exercises in the bay.
It is understood live firing went on for up to three weeks and was carried out during the day and night.

But the ministry said there was no live firing after Sunday midday. It added it was unaware of an explosion at sea reported by the public.

Alan Knight, head of British Divers Marine Life Rescue which went to the scene, said: "I believe there was some sort of disturbance that made the dolphins panic."

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"