The carcasses of the dolphin were found at Rdum tal-Madonna, Ahrax tal-Mellieha.
The carcass was spotted by BirdLife Malta members, who reported the incident to Nature Trust. Members of the rescue team went on site by boat, but had to swim to reach the carcass, as it was inside a cave.
The 2.5-metre dolphin was in a well-advanced state of decomposition and the number and size of the maggots on the carcass showed that it had been dead for quite a while. The upper jaw was missing, and it was unclear whether it was a striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) or a common dolphin (Delphinus delphis).
Common dolphins are one of the cetacean species that are most heavily impacted by human activities, such as reduced availability of prey caused by overfishing, and habitat degradation. They are listed as 'endangered' in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Animals.
Striped dolphins often get entangled in fishing nets and lines since they feed on fish species that are also important from a commercial point of view. The species is classified as 'conservation dependant', and without conservation efforts, striped dolphins too, would probably be classified as 'threatened'.
Nature Trust urges the public to be cautious, especially during the summer months, when Maltese waters are home to different species of marine turtles and dolphins. Fast boats and pollution can harm these creatures, most of which are endangered, and turtles can mistake plastic for jellyfish, or accidentally become entangled in loose nylon fishing lines.