Numerous pods of dolphins have been spotted close to beaches on the Isle of Arran, shortly after nearly 50,000 salmon escaped from a nearby fish farm.
Dolphins were seen playing in the shallows in the island’s west and east coasts, with local environmentalists blaming the presence of the animals on the huge numbers of farmed fish escaping into the Kilbrannan Sound.
Spottings of the dolphins happened across the weekend, Monday and Tuesday after Mowi fish farm off the north coast of Carradale – which contains over half a million salmon – had four of its pens break free from their moorings on Friday 20 August. Two of the pen nets were torn.
Mowi said a total of 48,834 salmon escaped, 30,616 died and a further 125,900 were harvested.
They also said inspections by divers revealed the breakage of mooring ropes attached to the farm’s seabed anchors was the cause.
The damage came after high winds and rough seas caused by Storm Ellen.
Dead salmon were found washed up on beaches on both Arran’s west and east coasts on Monday evening.
Local environmentalists say they are “concerned” about the huge numbers of farmed salmon escaping into the sea and the damage this could cause to wildlife.
Andrew Binnie, manager of COAST – Arran’s marine protection organisation – said: “COAST is very concerned about the fish farm cages dis-mooring at Carradale.
“The sudden appearance of dolphins in Kilbrannan Sound seems no coincidence and quite likely associated with the escape of farmed salmon.
“This endangers the already highly vulnerable native salmon stocks.”
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