Alive harbour porpoise washed ashore in Koksijde

Alive harbour porpoise washed ashore in Koksijde
A harbour porpoise. Credit: Belga

A live harbour porpoise washed up on the beach at Koksijde on Sunday morning and has been safely taken to Boudewijn Seapark in Bruges to recover.

The porpoise was spotted around 10:00 by walkers at the waterline, according to Kelle Moreau of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (KBIN).

As it was clear the animal would not make it back to the sea on its own, the emergency services were called in to help the porpoise, and it was transported to the Seapark, as is always done when such an animal is found alive.

“This way porpoises have a slightly higher chance of survival than when they are immediately put back into the sea,” Moreau told Belga news agency.

The harbour porpoise is one of eight species of porpoise and is one of the smallest species of aquatic mammals. As is implied by its name, the animal stays close to coastal areas.

Common occurrence

It is by no means a new phenomenon that porpoises wash ashore at the Belgian coast. According to the most recent report, in 2020, there were 65 stranded porpoises.

Several years ago, this figure was significantly higher, peaking at 150 stranded individuals in 2013. Among the animals studied, the most common cause of death was an attack by a grey seal, although this is a fairly new phenomenon.

“Porpoises wash ashore more easily in winds from the north and northwest (like today, ed.). That’s why it used to happen more in autumn, but in recent years we’ve seen it more often in summer,” according to Moreau.

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