Marine experts have accused French fishermen of eating "large fillets" cut from the bodies of dolphins illegally caught in nets off the coast of Cornwall.
Conservationists claim the gruesome practice is common off the South West, where concern is growing over the large number of dolphins and porpoises caught in fishing nets.
According to the report in the Telegraph, this year alone has already seen Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Marine Strandings Network record 50 dolphin deaths, with 23 showing evidence of dying in fishing equipment.
One dolphin found on Mousehole beach last month appeared to show marks from being caught in a mesh, mid-water trawl net.
A Cornwall Wildlife Trust spokesman told the paper: " A large fillet of flesh had been removed from the back - presumably for eating.
"This is a known practice on French boats and French pair trawlers were working close to the south coast at the time.
"The dolphin's tail had been cut off in the course of cutting the animal free from a winch strop which was used to lift it over the side of the boat.
"Local people were very upset to see what had been done to this beautiful animal and to hear that this was just one of many."
Researcher Nick Tregenza explained that UK fishery regulations prevent British mid-water trawlers from coming within the 12-mile limit of the shore, but French boats can come in closer.
Research by the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrew's University is working on finding an "acoustic deterrent" to keep the animals away from the nets.
Nick said: "In the present situation we believe that EU mid-water trawlers should be subject to video monitoring to assess the size of the bycatch offshore of these animals that are so highly valued by people here and across the world."
Using acoustic pingers, he says, would help bring back the sight of porpoises swimming close to the shore, something locals, tourists and conservationists would love to see.
But, currently, accidental deaths from fisheries could be "doubling their natural death rate".
Cornwall has some stunning beaches, and it would be wonderful to see dolphins and porpoises swimming in the coastal waters as a matter of course. See some of its best beaches here:
Best beaches in Cornwall
French fishermen 'eating dolphins illegally caught in Cornwall'
One of Newquay's famous five beaches, this perfect horseshoe-shaped cove is great for swimmers, surfers and families. Don't miss: the Kitchen beach bar, with its laid-back atmosphere and music events, was recently named as one of Europe's finest in an Orange holiday guide. Who needs St Tropez when you can have Lusty Glaze?
With its white sand and frothy rollers, Gwithain beach is a real gem, and a particularly good spot for sunsets. Stretching for more than three miles right up to Godrevy Point, if you get this far you may be lucky enough to see the seal colony. Look out for pods of dolphins, too. Gourmet tip: Stop for a homemade cake at the Jam Pot, a listed historic building overlooking the whole of St Ives Bay.
By far one of the prettiest, safest and expansive beaches in the area, Mawgan Porth offers fabulous swimming, family surfing and body boarding. Top tip: Book in for a family sufing lesson at Kingsurf – the affable owner, Pete Abell, is an inspiration. Oh, and make sure you have a cream tea at the Merrymore Inn afterwards.
Bedruthan Steps forms part of one of the most spectacular sections of the north Cornwall coast. Huge outcrops of volcanic rock are scattered along the length of the beach – you can walk around them at low tide. Perfect if you: are relatively fit. Access to the beach is via a long and very steep staircase.... Arriving is more fun than leaving.
Although it's only a stonesthrow away from bustling Newquay, Crantock is a different world. This is a secret spot for avoiding the summer crowds: due to its relative remoteness, Crantock offers relative calm during the peak season. Top tip: Take the ferry from Newquay to Crantock Bay and stop at the Fern Pit Café.
Set in a steep valley, Portreath was once a busy port but it's now left largely to holidaymakers, surfers, and the odd fisherman. Perfect for: Scenic walks. The coastal footpath west towards St Ives Bay offers some jolly good scenery of the coastline, dotted by Deadman's Cove and Hell's Mouth – names which bear testament to the tales of shipwrecks and smuggling in the area.
Backed by lovely dunes and cliffs just a couple of miles outside Padstow, Harlyn Bay offers lots to explore and a sweeping cove popular with surfers. Don't miss: The cliffs at Trevose Head, which offer amazing views towards Pentire Head and Newquay beyond.
Often overlooked by holidaymakers, I think secluded Trevone beach is well worth a visit. A perfect mix of sand and rockpools makes it a lovely spot for families. Perfect if you: love crabbing or collecting shells.
Despite being one of the most popular beaches in north Cornwall, Polzeath still somehow manages to maintain a laid-back, typically Cornish character. The influx of families, surfers, bodyboarders, kayakers and sunbathers all mix happily on this glorious beach in unspoilt surroundings. Best for: Everyone. Last time I was here it was pouring with rain... but the kids still absolutely loved running around in their wetsuits on the open sands.
Bude is all about soft sand and space for everybody, with top-notch surfing. The eastern end of Summerleaze beach you'll find a seawater swimming pool, which is re-filled by the tide every day. Top tip: Bag yourself a beach hut at Summerleaze or Crooklets beach, with prices from £62 per week.