LONDON-The number of whales and dolphins washing up around the UK coastline has risen, according to new figures.

In 2017 alone, 1,000 animals were stranded - more than in any year since records began.

A total of 4,896 whales, dolphins and porpoises died on beaches between 2011 and 2017 - up 15% on the previous seven years.

Scientists found a number of causes for the deaths, including infectious diseases, fishing and plastic. It’s difficult to say conclusively what’s driven the rise, but it’s associated with multiple causes, including rises in some dolphin and whale populations, they say.

“Strandings aren’t actually in and of themselves bad news,” Rob Deaville of ZSL (Zoological Society of London), who led the report, told BBC News.

“There’s a misconception that we’re trying to stop strandings - we’re not, we’re trying to learn more about those that are due to human activities and then try and mitigate those where we can.” In some respects the data paints a bleak picture, but there are still positives to be drawn, he added.

More than 20 cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) species were recorded over seven years - roughly a quarter of all cetacean species known in the world.