From Wildlife Extra:
More than 300 sightings and eight species seen during annual whale and dolphin watch
August 2010. Eight different species of whales and dolphins and porpoise have been recorded so far during this year’s annual National Whale and Dolphin Watch NWDW organised by the marine conservation and education charity Sea Watch.
So far more than 320 sightings have been reported to the charity with the most common species being harbour porpoise with 144 reports and bottlenose dolphins close behind with 105 recordings.
“The aim of the watch is to raise awareness of the status of UK cetaceans and to collect a large volume of effort and sightings data that can produce a snapshot of the distribution of cetaceans in UK waters,” explains Gemma Veneruso, the charity’s Sightings Officer.
Among the interesting sightings were:
* Two northern bottlenose whales in the Wash, Norfolk
* Four bottlenose dolphins in the Dee Estuary
* 20 white-beaked dolphins off the Farne Islands and Whitburn, Co Durham, and,
* 60 short-beaked common dolphins reported repeatedly in the Inner Hebrides and north western coast of Scotland.
Minke, Killer & Northern bottlenose whales
“Harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin made up the vast majority of sightings but there have also been 35 Minke whale reports, 13 short-beaked common dolphin, seven Risso’s dolphin, five killer whale, four white-beaked dolphin, one northern bottlenose whale and eight counts of unidentified cetaceans.”
People were urged to take part by joining manned watches organised by Sea Watch volunteers, doing their own cetacean watch and by sending in sightings.
Information gathered during NWDW creates a snapshot of the distribution of dolphins, whales and porpoises – cetaceans – around the coast, feeding into scientific discussions on abundance and distribution.
Sea Watch collects sightings data all year round which provides essential background on the relative abundance and distribution of cetaceans which helps to feed into discussions to help shape marine conservation policies aimed at protecting the whales, dolphins and porpoises around our coast.
This year, as part of NWDW, Sea Watch also called on members of the public to help in its campaign to solve the mysteries of the UK’s dolphin and whale population by taking photos of the fins of any they spot.
The pictures were then compared to others held on national ID databases at the charity’s base in Wales, and with regional catalogues held by other organisations.
Sightings hotspots include:
* New Quay (Ceredigion)
* Thurso Bay (Caithness)
* Strathy Point (North Sutherland)
* Swiney Hill (Lybster, Caithness)
* Chanonry Point (Moray Firth)
* Berryhead (South Devon)
* Loch Gairloch (Ross-shire).
Dolphin and whale tracking project
“This is a very exciting project for us and we want to encourage as many people as possible to send us their photos. The more we receive, the more we should be able to uncover about movement patterns, habits and behaviour,” explains Dr Peter Evans, Sea Watch research director.
“We are already aware of some of the movements of certain groups. For example, known bottlenose dolphins on the west coast of Scotland have been spotted off the Irish and Cornish coasts. Scottish east coast bottlenose dolphins were photo-identified near Whitby last year, which is further south than has been recorded before.
“However, we have no evidence yet that the Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphins in Wales ever go to the Irish coast or out of the Irish Sea or whether the Irish dolphins ever leave their coastal waters to come to Wales.
Photographing fins of other species will also help provide an insight into their movements. Individuals are recognised from nicks on their fin or unique markings on their back or flanks, as is the case for orca and Minke whale, or particular patterns of markings on the underside of their tail flukes as in humpback whales.
“By analysing movements more through this ID project, we can learn a lot from the dolphins, whales and porpoises around the UK – about the way they live, where they range to, and the challenges they are likely to face during their journeys. We need to understand more about them to shape conservation policies and so enable them to thrive in UK waters.”
It is important to note that cetaceans are protected by law & it is an offence to intentionally disturb them. View the marine code of conduct at www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk.
Adopt a dolphin
Sea Watch is also encouraging people to adopt a dolphin through its adoption scheme. Details about Sea Watch and the adoption scheme can be found at www.adoptadolphin.org.uk. All monies raised through the adoption scheme are used to fund the charity’s research on the dolphins.
Please help Stop Whaling, they have a petition to stop Greenland’s Humpback hunt, please sign it here.
FAQs on Dolphin Hunting & The Dangers of Dolphin Meat: here.
NGOs warn against ‘contaminated’ whale meat: here.
Top 10 Most Targeted Dolphins: here.
Computer program created to identify humpbacks by their tail markings: here.
September 2010: A unique, non-invasive whale research boat set sail earlier this month to carry out vital survey work around the coast of the UK and Ireland: here.
THE increase in Icelandic whaling activity is “irreconcilable” with Iceland’s bid to join the EU, a conservation group have maintained: here.
As the whaling season in European waters draws to a close this month, the hunting activities of Norway and Iceland demonstrate the confusing nature of a whaling industry in decline and the perverse messages it sends out to Europe, says the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS): here.
September 2010: Dolphins have been discovered kept in appalling conditions in a private villa pool in Hurghada, Egypt. Concerned members of the public reported the find to Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA). Relevant local authorities were immediately contacted to find out more and on September 15, the HEPCA team, including dolphin specialists, went to visit the villa where it found four common bottlenose dolphins – two males and two females – all two to three metres in length and being kept in a small swimming pool: here.