Hundreds of dead dolphins and fish have washed up on Ghana’s beaches in recent days, prompting an investigation by authorities.
Officials have warned against eating the dolphins and various other sea species as investigators try to establish what killed them.
Dismembered heads and tails of dolphins were found along Axim beach on the country’s west coast, leading officials to suspect the rest of the bodies had been taken for consumption.
Ghana’s fisheries commission said it had taken samples of the animals and the sea water, which it said was of normal colour and temperature.
Initial testing on fish taken from Osu Castle beach in Accra found no wounds or lesions on their bodies, the commission said in a statement.
Mavis Hawa Koomson, Ghana’s minister of fisheries and aquaculture, appealed to people who have eaten any of the fish or dolphins to come forward for medical treatment and testing.
One woman said she had eaten some of the fish and had not had any problems but now intended to wait until the outcome of the investigation to decide whether to eat the rest.
Arafat Alhassan, acting regional director of fisheries, said police intercepted a truck loaded with dolphins.
Officials said an estimated 120 of the dolphins that washed ashore were still alive but too weak to go back to sea. Local media report that 38 of the living dolphins have now been helped back into the water.
Workers from OR Foundation, an NGO researching the impact of the fashion industry on Ghana’s marine life, said fish were still washing up dead on Osu Castle beach on Tuesday evening.
Liz Ricketts, the group’s co-founder, said they had found 82 fish (mostly eels) within a 100m stretch of the coast that were not there earlier in the day.
Masses of dead dolphins have washed up elsewhere in Africa in the past year, with the causes not always clear.
An investigation was launched in February after 111 dolphins were found dead off the coast of Mozambique.
Preliminary findings suggest the dolphins there may have got caught at low tide after a cyclone.
Last summer, at least 40 dead dolphins were found along the coastline of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. Investigators found they were killed by barotrauma, which is physical damage caused by a change in pressure.
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