A SPATE of harbour porpoise deaths in Moray waters could have been the result of dolphin attacks, it has been claimed.
Members of the public have been urged to contact the relevant organisations if they come across injured or dead porpoises.
One was found dead at Findhorn, and another, at Hopeman, is believed to have been the victim of a dolphin attack. Others have been sent for examination.
One thing that the finds have highlighted is that most people do not know whom to contact if they find a dead or live stranded whale, dolphin or porpoise – collectively known as cetaceans.
If the animal is alive, it is imperative that a rescue is undertaken straight away, but if the animal is dead, it still needs to be recovered for a post-mortem examination. This provides a unique insight into causes of death, diseases, environmental contaminant levels, reproductive patterns, diet and other aspects of the general health of cetacean populations in the seas around our coasts.
Alan Airey, regional sightings co-ordinator with the Sea Watch Foundation, said: "Bottlenose dolphin sightings along the Burghead to Lossiemouth coast have been incredible so far in 2012.
"February and March were much better for dolphins than most summer months of past years, with regular sightings of groups of 20 to 100 dolphins."
Rescue for live strandings can be requested 24 hours a day through the SSPCA Animal Helpline on 03000 999999 or British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546.
Anyone finding a dead marine animal should call the Scottish Agricultural College in Inverness on 01463 243030.
He urged people to report all other sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises to the Sea Watch Foundation on 01545 561227 or by e-mail to email@example.com