White-beaked dolphin news from Britain


This video is about white-beaked dolphins near a ship in the North Sea.

From the Sea Watch Foundation in Britain:

White-beaked dolphins … EVERYWHERE!

July 29, 2015

by Megan Evans

It has come to our attention here at the Sea Watch Foundation that white-beaked dolphins (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) have a been a common feature on our coastlines recently!

White-beaked dolphins are short-beaked oceanic dolphins found within the family Delphinidae (also the family of the well known bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus). These dolphins get their name from their short beak, which has a distinguishable white tip; although this may not always be the case, making identifying these dolphins a fairly difficult task! However all is not lost, as unlike their very similar looking cousins the Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) they have a white saddle patch found behind a very distinctively hooked dorsal fin, white stripes, and are slightly larger at 3.1m in length.

Although white-beaked dolphins can be seen around the UK, as they inhabit North Atlantic temperate to subpolar waters, they are more regularly spotted offshore in the Southern North Sea. However, from April this year we at Sea Watch have received a number of unusual and exciting sightings from coastal areas spanning from Devon on the South coast all the way to Caithness at the top of Scotland (see table 1)! These sightings also included an unusual sighting near Southwold in Suffolk (see our previous blog).

Table 1. Sighting location, number of white-beaked dolphins spotted, and the observer

Sighting location, number of white-beaked dolphins spotted, and the observer

Along with letting us know about their encounters, a number of observers also provided us with some fantastic photographs; incredibly useful pieces of information when it comes to verifying any of the sightings we receive.

Dolphins’ brains, new study


This video from Scotland is called Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust: cetacean biology.

From Whale and Dolphin Conservation in Britain:

Dolphin brains are more complex than initially thought

9 July 2015 – 1:05pm

Hearing and seeing are largely thought to be two seperate senses. Dolphins however also use sound to see, a technique known as echolocation where an individual dolphin sends out an acoustic signal (clicks etc.) and whatever it hits, or bounces off of sends back to the dolphin where it can then “see” what it is. New evidence from the study of two dolphin brains – acquired from animals who stranded over a decade ago – shows that this process is even more complex than was originally thought.

In most mammalian species there is one area in the brain associated with hearing and one with vision. in dolphins however, by using a new technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI),  researchers have found that the processing of sound takes place in more than just one area as the auditory nerve connects to not only the temporal lobe – the area of the brain in most mammalian species where hearing is processed – but also to another area in the brain known as the primary visual region.

This has led the authors to hypothesise that unlike the human brain for example, dolphins hear sound in more than just one place, likely because they use it for more than just hearing. Sound is the most important sense that dolphins have and they use it for not only exploring their environment but for communication, navigation and foraging.

Lead author Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, is excited by the similarities they found between the brain of dolphins and bats, also known to be experts at the use of echolocation, because although bats and dolphins are completely unrelated this research shows that they may have evolved similar mechanisms for using sound not just to hear, but to also create mental images. Berns considers that for the first time, we may be on the road to beginning to “really understand how the dolphins (and other animals) mind works and how they create perceptual experiences from their environment”.

Bottlenose dolphins near England, videos


This video from England says about itself:

Bottlenose Dolphins 20 06 2015 (Farne Islands)

On the morning 20/06/2015 I left the harbour in my boat in search of Bottlenose Dolphins and I had over half an hour with these wonderful creatures.

This 27 June 2015 video from England is called 3 minutes of pure bliss. Bow Riding Bottlenose Dolphins (Farne Islands).

See also here.

Kayakers rescue trapped young dolphin, video


This video from Scotland says about itself:

30 June 2015

Three juvenile dolphins in Northbay on the Isle of Barra. One of the dolphins was completely trapped in seaweed and shallow water. After a successful rescue the dolphin joined the other two for a fine display of thanks! Rescue was performed by a group from Clearwater Paddling.

See also here.

Bottlenose dolphins in Florida, new study


This video says about itself:

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

* Family: Delphinidae,

* Genus: Tursiops,

* Class: Mammalia,

* Order: Cetacea,

* Type: Mammal,

* Diet: Carnivore,

* Average life span in the wild: 45 to 50 years,

* Size: 10 to 14 ft (3 to 4.2 m),

* Weight: 1,100 lbs (500 kg),

* Group name: Pod,

**Did you know? Bottlenose dolphins have been observed to breach up to 16 feet (4.9 meters) out of the water, landing with a splash on their back or side.

More info here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Florida dolphins use their own forms of social media to choose their friends

Just like human beings, dolphins form highly complex and dynamic social networks, according to a recent study by scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) at Florida Atlantic University.

The researchers studied the interactions between some 200 bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), a 156-mile long estuary located on Florida’s east coast.

They discovered how the dolphins mingle and with whom they spend their time. They may not have Facebook or Twitter but they do have association patterns as well as movement behaviour and habitat preferences.

The IRL lagoon is long and narrow and composed of three distinct water bodies; Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River, and the Indian River. There are five inlets and one lock (Cape Canaveral lock) connecting the IRL to the Atlantic Ocean.

Researchers from HBOI have been conducting photo identification studies of IRL bottlenose dolphins since 1996, identifying more than 1,700 individual dolphins.

In their paper recently published in the journal Marine Mammal Science, the team found that individual dolphins exhibited both preference and avoidance behaviour – so just like humans, they have dolphins they like and associate with and ones they avoid.

The study also found that IRL dolphins clustered into groups of associated animals, or “communities,” that tended to occupy discrete core areas along the north-south axis of the lagoon system.

“One of the more unique aspects of our study was the discovery that the physical dimensions of the habitat, the long, narrow lagoon system itself, influenced the spatial and temporal dynamics of dolphin association patterns,” says Elizabeth Murdoch Titcomb, research biologist at HBOI who worked on the study.

“For example, communities that occupy the narrowest stretches of the Indian River Lagoon have the most compact social networks, similar to humans who live in small towns and have fewer people with whom to interact.”

In addition to providing a unique glimpse into dolphin societies, the study provides important insight and knowledge on how dolphins organise themselves, who they interact with and who they avoid, as well as when and where.

It also gives scientists and resource managers the roadmap needed to understand how dolphin populations perceive and use their environment, and how social networks will influence information transfer and potentially breeding behaviour and disease transmission.

Fukushima disaster killing dolphins


This video from Japan says about itself:

Fukushima Update -150 Dolphins Dead After Beaching Themselves in Japan

11 April 2015

Beached dolphins in Japan were found covering a six-mile stretch of beach in the Ibaraki region Friday morning. Nearly 150 of the cetacean mammals had beached themselves in the Ibaraki Prefecture along the eastern coast of the main island of Honshu. Less than one third of the dolphins were rescued.

This video says these beached animals were melon-headed whales.

By Royce Christyn:

Dead Dolphins In Fukushima Stranding Found With White Radiated Lungs

1 week ago

Japanese scientists are saying they have never seen anything like what they discovered after autopsying a massive group of dolphins that ended up dead after being discovered stranded on a beach near the site of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Their lungs were white, which, according to scientists is an indication of loss of blood flow to the organs which is an indication of radiation poisoning.

The translated article comes from EneNews.

Scottish common dolphin news


This video from the USA is called Short-Beaked Common-Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) off Southern California Coast.

From Wildlife Extra:

Double the sightings of common dolphins in the Hebrides

There has been a substantial increase in common dolphin numbers off western Scotland in recent years, and this is to be studied by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust in a new season of marine research expeditions beginning in May.

The Trust’s encounter rate with common dolphins has more than doubled over the past 12 years. The causes – and broader effects on the marine environment and other species – are still unclear.

Common dolphins come to the Hebrides each spring to take advantage of seasonal food stocks. They are gregarious, often approaching boats to bow-ride and play in the wake, and are smaller than the region’s resident bottlenose dolphins.

The species also travels in large groups – sometimes forming super-pods of thousands of individuals.

The finding of increased numbers – recently presented to the European Cetacean Society – has emerged from the charity’s unique long-term monitoring of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Hebrides.

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is now recruiting volunteers to work alongside marine scientists in its annual summer surveys, which it hopes will shed further light on the dramatic changes.

“An increase in common dolphins means that those wishing to encounter dolphins in the wild are in luck – but further research is needed to explain why this is happening, the extent to which this has been caused by human activity, and the implications for other cetacean species,” says Dr Conor Ryan, Sightings and Strandings Officer at Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.

Despite their name, common dolphins – known in Gaelic as leumadair or ‘jumper’ – were once only occasionally seen in the Hebrides, preferring more southern waters generally warmer than 10°C.

With climate change causing sea surface temperatures in the Hebrides to rise at a rate of 0.5°C per decade, it appears that such warmer water species are starting to colonise new areas in the north or closer to shore.

Yet even as this shift potentially creates new opportunities for common dolphins, it may be generating competition for food with other dolphin species or seabirds.

One predicted consequence of warming seas is colder-water species such as the white beaked dolphin being forced to retreat further north.

So far, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has found no evidence of displacement of the white beaked dolphin – but continued monitoring is needed to establish whether or not the influx of common dolphins is having a negative effect on such species.

“Dedicated volunteers onboard our specialised research yacht, Silurian, have enabled us to build up a unique and valuable database, enabling researchers to examine changes in cetacean populations – and providing vital data for protecting these species and their habitats, including in the recent designation of Scottish Marine Protected Areas,” says Kerry Froud, the Trust’s Biodiversity Officer.

“Our research expeditions depend on volunteers. In return, they offer the opportunity of a lifetime to contribute to a better understanding of cetaceans and basking sharks, whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery of Scotland’s west coast and experiencing exhilarating sailing.”

For more information, email volunteercoordinator@hwdt.org, call 01688 302620 or see www.hwdt.org.