The dolphins were found by the crew of a lobster vessel on Friday. It is believed they had been stranded for about a week before the horrendous discovery.
A senior marine biologist in Namibia’s Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Kolette Grobler, told The Namibian newspaper that the dolphins were already decomposing when they were found.
“Hyena, jackals and seagulls (had) begun feeding on the carcasses. The area is also very isolated, hence the late discovery,” said Grobler.
Grobler is part of a team of researchers that was taken by the vessel to the site of the mass stranding. It was described as a “scene beyond sad” by the Lüderitz Marine Research group on Facebook.
A whale was also reportedly among the dead dolphins.
According to the Facebook post, the scene was beyond sad. Altogether 86 dusky dolphins, including two newborns and several immature individuals, were scattered on the extremely remote beach and in an advanced state of decay.
Unfortunately, their decomposed state yielded no clues as to what may have caused this mass stranding.
In efforts to try and understand what took place, the group said: “They might have become disorientated for some reason and accidentally beached themselves, or they may have rallied around a member of their group that got itself in trouble.”
These relatively small dolphins, known for their impressive aerial acrobatics, occur in parts of South America, southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand and at several subantarctic islands.
In southern Africa, they are found from central Angola to about Cape Town in South Africa, and from fairly shallow coastal to deep continental shelf waters.
“Sadly we will never know what exactly happened to this group, and the heartbreaking images will be hard to forget,” it added.
In a separate but shocking incident which took place last year, a whale starved to death as a result of 40kg of plastic in its stomach.
The animal died in the southern province of Compostela Valley in the Philippines.
Environmentalists have long targeted the Philippines, branding them amongst the worst ocean polluters principally as a result of the large scale use of single-use plastic products.