Experts investigate the sudden rise in beached dolphins, 14 in ten days

The latest case, found recently on the coastline of Mijas.
The latest case, found recently on the coastline of Mijas. / SUR
  • Of the 45 washed-up dolphins discovered in 2017, 14 have been found in the last ten days, yet autopsies have not determined the cause

Experts at the centre for the recovery of endangered marine species, CREMA, part of the Aula del Mar organisation, are to investigate the recent spate of dolphins being washed up on beaches on the stretch of coast from Manilva to Mijas.

Of the 45 cases of dolphins found dead or dying on beaches in the province of Malaga registered in 2017, 14 have occurred in the last ten days. Autopsies have not shed light on the cause of these deaths. Despite professionals describing it as a “natural phenomenon”, the situation is going to receive a “special investigation”.

Every year, especially during the summer, images of dolphins washed-up on the beach appear regularly. Sometimes, thanks to individuals or professionals, the animal can be saved. In other cases, it is too late and the animal dies on the shore or is even found floating, lifeless in the water.

Ironically, this recent increase in cases has taken place in a year that has, until now, seen an exceptionally low number of beached animals. The usual average for Malaga is between 70 and 100 animals. Usually the greatest number of incidents occurs at the end of summer as this is when weaning occurs and new dolphins are born.

Possible causes for this recent rise are overpopulation, which forces dolphins to approach the coastline in search of food; climate change; and the contamination of the water. Toxic substances and pieces of plastic can have a harmful effect, strangling, suffocating and killing marine life.

Malaga is not alone in experiencing a recent rise in the number of these incidents, Granada has also seen a large number of beached dolphins with the latest found on an Almuñécar beach this week.

Over the last 20 years, the Aula del Mar has recorded 5,000 cases of washed-up whales, dolphins and turtles. Some of these animals are saved and in their care now.