SOURCE: AP News Wire

DATE: March 28, 2019

SNIP: The dolphins’ bodies were horribly mutilated, the fins cut off.

But what shocked French marine researchers wasn’t just the brutality of the deaths of these highly intelligent mammals, but the numbers involved — a record 1,100 have landed on France’s Atlantic coast beaches since January.

The mass deaths, widely blamed on industrial fishing, have alarmed animal welfare groups and prompted France’s ecology minister to launch a national plan to protect them.

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.”

Autopsies carried out on the dolphins this year by La Rochelle University’s National Center for Scientific Research show extreme levels of mutilation.

Activists say it’s common for fishermen to cut body parts off the suffocated dolphins after they are pulled up on the nets, to save the nets.

French Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy rushed last week to La Rochelle in an attempt to lower the number of dolphins dying as a result of humans.

“The government needs to take responsibility and act — especially Macron, who said he wanted to protect ecology,” Lamya Essemlali, President of Sea Shepherd France, told The Associated Press.

She cited scientists who predict that the current rates of fishing will likely drive the dolphin population to extinction.