Porpoise strayed into netting

A HEADLESS porpoise washed up on Felixstowe beach was most likely killed because he strayed into fishing nets by mistake, it was revealed today.Experts who have studied the Evening Star's photographs of the creature believe he was beheaded after becoming the unwitting victim of “bycatch” - where larger fish chasing smaller ones get caught up in nets designed to capture other species.

A HEADLESS porpoise washed up on Felixstowe beach was most likely killed because he strayed into fishing nets by mistake, it was revealed today.

Experts who have studied the Evening Star's photographs of the creature believe he was beheaded after becoming the unwitting victim of “bycatch” - where larger fish chasing smaller ones get caught up in nets designed to capture other species.

Cutting its head off may have been the only way to free it from the nets - or it may have been decapitated to try to encourage other creatures to eat it after it was thrown back into the sea.

An expert with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation said: “The porpoise looks like a male with some scavenger damage around what could be a knife puncture wound in the flank and possible net marks on the pectoral fin, but look slightly scavenged as well along with the dorsal fin.


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“I have no idea why whoever was cutting the head off decided to change direction halfway through and miss out the pectoral fin.”

Despite the damage, its nutritional condition appeared to be good.

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Tony Wooderson, assistant co-ordinator with the BDMLR, said the analysis from a marine medical expert who had dealt with numerous strandings and porpoise deaths was not definitive, but showed the most likely cause of death.

The porpoise was washed up at Cobbold's Point. It was the second in the past fortnight - the other was found close to the Town Hall, and some others have been found recently in Norfolk.

Experts have appealed to beach walkers finding the creatures dead or alive to contact the Coastguard so the incident can be reported to the Natural History Museum, which arrange for tests and disposal in liaison with the Receiver of Wrecks.

Porpoises are classed as 'fishes royale', along with whales, dolphins and sturgeon.

Have you found anything unusual on Felixstowe beach? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Factfile: Porpoises

Due to the noise they make when they spout, they are also known as “puffing pigs”.

They are possibly the shortest-lived cetacean and rarely live for longer than 12 years.

They have a body length of 1.4 to 1.9m and weigh 55-65kg.

The creatures are greyish in colour with a low, triangular dorsal finand lack a beak, feed on 20 different species of fish, including herring, sprat and sandeels, and squid, octopus and shellfish.

They are common around the UK coastline - though at least 10,000 die every year as a result of being mistakenly caught in fishing nets.

Source: BBC WILDLIFE.

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