Page last updated at 14:53 GMT, Monday, 8 December 2008

Calls to report dead marine life

Dead dolphin (Pic courtesy of Colin Wood/WDCS)
More dead creatures are expected to be washed up over the winter months

People visiting Devon and Cornwall's beaches over the winter are being urged to report sightings of dead marine life washed up along the coastline.

According to Devon and Cornwall Wildlife Trusts, winter storms will result in a rise in the number of dead creatures being washed up.

The charities have been recording the sightings over the years to try to find out which species are most affected.

Part of their research also includes trying to find out why they die.

Lauren Davis, from the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, said: "Recording stranded animals provides us with information about the marine environment and the health of marine creatures.

Public help

"This information is vital in helping us to conserve our marine wildlife and cannot be learnt just from studying live animals.

"If we catch strandings in time, they can be sent off for post-mortem examination from which we can learn about causes of death, distribution, diet, diseases and the effects of pollution.

"In the past we have seen an increase in dolphin strandings over the winter period so it is important the public are on the look out now and call us as soon as they come across one.

"We need as many eyes out there as possible. We do have volunteers who help us, but it is difficult to monitor all the beaches in the South West without the public's help."

Anyone who comes across a marine stranding in Devon should contact the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre.

In Cornwall people should ring Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Stranding Network on their 24-hour hotline.

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