Third dead porpoise washes up

BEACH walkers have found another dead porpoise on Felixstowe's shores - the third to be washed up in a month.The latest was found on the shingle at Landguard, just past the end of the stepped sea wall, and is believed to have died because it strayed into fishing nets by mistake.

BEACH walkers have found another dead porpoise on Felixstowe's shores - the third to be washed up in a month.

The latest was found on the shingle at Landguard, just past the end of the stepped sea wall, and is believed to have died because it strayed into fishing nets by mistake.

Global warming could be responsible for growing numbers of reports of porpoise swimming in the North Sea, and this in turn could lead to higher numbers of other creatures - such as dolphins, whales and seals - being sighted in future.

The porpoise was reported to members of Landguard Bird Observatory, who passed on the details to the Coastguards.


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Nigel Odin, from the observatory, said: “The porpoise had one or two marks on its body and had lost a fin - it was partly buried in the shingle, so we don't know how long it had been there.

“In the last three years we have seen a growing number of porpoise - individuals and small groups - swimming off the Landguard area, which is very interesting.”

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The British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation says many porpoise become the unwitting victim of “bycatch” - where larger fish chasing smaller ones for feed get caught up in nets designed to capture other species.

Fishermen then throw them back into the sea, often having to cut them free from their nets, but by this time the creatures are dead.

In the past few weeks, a headless porpoise was washed up at Cobbold's Point, and another near the Town Hall.

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.

WEBLINK: www.lbo.org.uk

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 fin and 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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