SOFIA (Reuters) – Dolphin carcasses are washing up on Bulgaria’s Black Sea beaches at a higher than normal rate, with a record 108 dead animals discovered this year, local authorities said on Thursday.
The cause of death has not yet been determined, Environment Minister Ivelina Vasileva said after collecting information from regional centers, adding that 77 of the dead dolphins were found in the southern part of the coast of the Black Sea of the country.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov called a special meeting with conservation organizations on Thursday to try to find a solution to the record number of deaths and said on his official Facebook page that measures were being taken to ban fishing in areas populated by protected species.
The number of dead dolphins in 2016 is significantly higher than the 56 found last year and the previous record of 74 in 2012.
Media reports of dead dolphins on Bulgarian beaches have been numerous in recent years. Despite repeated allegations, often pointed at the fishermen, the cause has not yet been conclusively established.
There are three species of dolphins in the Black Sea off Bulgaria: the short-beaked common dolphin, the harbor porpoise and the common bottlenose dolphin. The dolphin population along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast is around 15,000, according to data from the Ministry of the Environment.
The penalty for killing a dolphin is a fine of up to 20,000 levs ($11,270) and imprisonment for up to five years.
Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by David Goodman