The Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network is the official recorder for all marine strandings in Cornwall.
The Marine Strandings Network consists of a team of over 100 volunteers who record all reported strandings of organic organisms on Cornwall's coastline. Although this includes everything from jellyfish to nuts, the volunteers' main activity is recording and photographing all stranded dolphins, whales and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) as well as seals, basking sharks and turtles.
Volunteers have been collecting data on strandings for many years and we now have over 5000 records on our strandings database, the earliest dating back to 1308! The records are kept by the Strandings Coordinator and are shared with other organisations.
Between 2000 and 2012 we recorded nearly 1800 dead dolphins and whales and over 850 grey seals around Cornwall.
We work in partnership with the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS) and the Institute of Zoology which runs the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme under which the records of all stranded cetaceans from around the UK coast are collated. The information is used to inform Government and the EU on the status of cetaceans in UK waters and, as Cornwall has a high rate of cetacean deaths, the data we provide as volunteers are vital in influencing change.
The bodies of dead dolphins may be retrieved by our volunteers for post-mortem examination at the University of Exeter (Tremough Campus), on behalf of the Institute of Zoology. This procedure can confirm the cause of death and offer a vast amount of information that enhances our understanding of the lives of cetaceans and the threats to their survival.
What we can learn from different species
Recording stranded animals provides us with information about the marine environment and the health of marine creatures. This information is vital in helping us to conserve wildlife and cannot be learnt from studying live animals. We can learn about:
causes of death and threats to survival
health and diseases
behaviour among the same, and between different, species
the effects of pollution
Would you be able to identify a dolphin, whale, seal, basking shark or marine turtle on the beach? Click on one of the pictures below to see our identification guides.