Dozens of butchered dolphin carcasses have washed up on the shores of Brittany with perfect slices carved out of them – amid fears they are being infused with garlic and eaten.
Beachgoers in western France have been left baffled after stumbling on the gruesome finds, with some pointing to foul play.
The loveable and super intelligent sea mammals appear to be skinned or cut up, some with surgical-like precision.
In early August, a beachgoer walking in La Torche, in Finistère, found the bloodied body of a dolphin whose upper dorsal section had been carved out and took to social media to share her disgust.
She wrote: "These are protected species. These barbaric ‘customs’ must end.
It was not an isolated innocent, but one of several dead dolphins at the beginning of August washed up beaches around La Torche, French media report.
Other dead dolphins appeared to have had their tails completely cut off – sometimes done by local fishermen when trapped in nets.
Another beachgoer found the remains of three dead dolphins on Plovan beach in Brittany and took to Twitter to share the horrifying sight. One had its fin attached with a metal cable, with the poster raising concerns that the harmless sea creature may have been used as bait.
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Similar dolphins, which are a protected species in France, where found back in January in the Brittany region.
Conservationist group Sea Shepherd France took to Facebook, convinced they had been deliberately cut open by humans, infused with garlic and eaten.
The non-profit group wrote: "These are two different dolphins to be eaten.
"Three more dolphins were discovered yesterday on the beach at La Torche near Guilvenec, Brittany.
"One of them was skinned to be eaten. Garlic-stung dolphin recipes are circulating in the fishing community as reported to us from several sources."
The group added it would continue to patrol the Bay of Biscay to ward off illegal fishing.
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Back in January, the activists also posted video on YouTube showing unidentified fishermen with blood-covered hands butchering a dolphin for its "red" meat which is said to taste like steak.
A spokesperson at the time said: "The way the dolphin is butchered is typical of what fishermen do when they eat dolphins.
"We have been receiving more and more testimonies from fishermen reporting this behaviour. There are certain people who consider dolphins to be like fish, that they can be eaten.
"But as a protected species, it’s illegal to eat them even if they are captured as bycatch."
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In response to the influx of dolphin carcasses washing up this year one sea animal lover wrote: "Anyone who isn't shocked and doesn't see the wrong eating dolphin, research and you'll see it's very bad for health due to mercury poisoning.
"But good personal, eating animals so similar to us by their intelligence and sensitivity seems to me horrible enough."
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"Blessed are animals that never met man," another added. "To me it is either being exploited or being eaten, and eventually disappearing!!! If we were to draw up a list of all the animals missing by OUR fault, we would need weeks of work to get there."
Sea mammals such as dolphins are too commonly accidentally caught in the nets of fisherman trawling for fish which the dolphins are drawn towards to eat.
Fishermen are required to release any dolphins accidentally caught in their nets, but Sea Shepherd claims less than 1% of dolphins caught are reported.
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