Before sickness fully takes hold, the body attempts — tirelessly — to send messages to the host. “I can’t live in these conditions!” it screams. But, most people ignore these pleas. In a similar fashion, the planet is warning humankind of the impending danger which is fast approaching. Unless gargantuan efforts are made to slow the rate of climate change and implement sustainable initiatives worldwide, future generations may inherit an inhospitable planet.
In recent months, this reality has been hard to ignore. On France’s Atlantic coast, a record number of dolphins have washed ashore — many of which were mutilated. According to The Guardian, the final tally is close to 1,100. However, environmental campaigners believe this count could be 10 times higher, as many bodies sink without a trace.
“There’s never been a number this high,”said Willy Daubin, a member of La Rochelle University’s National Center for Scientific Research. “Already in three months, we have beaten last year’s record, which was up from 2017 and even that was the highest in 40 years.”
Though the cause of the conundrum is presently unknown, trawlers catching sea bass off the Atlantic coast may be responsible. Autopsies performed on the dolphin suggest that the mammals sustained catastrophic injuries trying to escape nets or were harmed when trawler crew tried to cut them free.
“These fishing vessels have nets that are not selective at all so when they put their net in the water and the water is full of dolphins they get in the net,” Lamya Essemlali, the president Sea Shepherd told AP Press. “Dolphins are not fish, they are mammals, and they need to get to the surface to get air. So what happens is they suffocate and they also injure themselves, when they try to get away from the nets and that’s the reason why we find all these marks on their bodies.”
She continued that the number of dolphin fatalities has increased over the past three years. “Right now it’s such an alarming rate they could drive the European dolphin population to extinction,” Essemlali added.
Sea Shepherd has since called on the French government to carry out greater surveillance of trawlers. French agriculture minister, François de Rugy, has announced an “action plan,” including fitting fishing nets with acoustic “pingers” that warn away dolphins. However, Essemlali says this plan is flawed because many trawlers already have this technology but do not use it for fear they will scare away the fish.
The public could also step up its game. The consumption of “cheap fish” may be convenient to the public, but aquatic wildlife, including dolphins, are suffering as a result. “You can find sea bass cheap in the shops at €7 [£6] a kilo, but it’s the dolphins who are paying the price,” said Essemlali.
Clearly, a resolution is needed. But, for that to occur, you need to take action. Please consider supporting organizations like Sea Shepherd, as well as speaking out about this issue in your local area. The hard-to-swallow truth is that if action isn’t taken, the European dolphin population may go extinct. We can do better, so we should.
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IMAGR CREDIT: Geograph.ie