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Cetacean strandings on the rise in the UK
Infectious disease and incidental entanglement in fishing gear were among the most common causes of death.
Stranding events peaked in 2017, report finds 

Marine mammal strandings are on the rise in the UK, according to new figures, which reveal infectious disease and bycatch are among the most common causes.

A review by the UK government and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) shows that 4,896 harbour porpoises, dolphins and whales were reported washed up on UK shorelines from 2011-2017.

This is an increase of 15 per cent compared to the previous seven-year period. Over 1,000 strandings were reported in 2017 alone, the highest number of stranding events in a single year since records began in 1990.

Cetologist and report lead Rob Deaville explained: “It’s difficult to say conclusively what’s driven this rise, but it’s potentially associated with multiple causes, including increases in local reporting effort and seasonal variation in the population density of some species.”

Researchers also carried out 1,030 post mortems during the report period. Infectious disease and incidental entanglement in fishing gear were among the most common causes of death. However, the likelihood of particular causes of death varied between species.

Other deaths caused directly by human activity included 25 animals killed by ship-strike and a single Cuvier’s beaked whale that suffered gastric impaction after ingesting marine litter in 2015.

However, Mr Deaville said the total proportion of deaths linked to human activity is likely to be much higher than the report shows. Whilst researchers can readily diagnose causes such as ship-strike, which causes characteristic injuries, less direct causes of death can be more difficult to identify.

“For example, cases of infectious disease may be associated with exposure to chemical pollution, including legacy pollutants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which can have immunosuppressive effects,” he added.

Whilst aspects of the report paint a “bleak picture”, Mr Deaville said there are still positives. Researchers recorded 21 cetacean species, including the dwarf sperm whale which had never previously been seen in the UK. 

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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News Shorts
BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.