The Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project is based in New Quay, Wales. It provides information on the conservation management of the bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise and grey seal populations of Cardigan Bay. The project is carried out under contract for Natural Resources Wales. The team gather valuable knowledge of the local marine environment by using a combination of photo-identification, line transects, land-based and acoustic surveys which are used to monitor their abundance, reproductive success, population structure and distribution. Thanks to the work completed by the Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project we can raise awareness and gain an understanding of the marine mammals that exist here and the threats that they face e.g. boat traffic and noise disturbance.
Cetacean surveys are conducted in both the Southern Cardigan Bay special area of conservation (SAC) and the Pen Llyn A’r Sarnau SAC. The shallow, sheltered waters of the Southern Cardigan Bay SAC provide an ideal habitat for bottlenose dolphins to rear their young so the monitoring of this area is especially important for measuring the reproductive success of this species. Both SACs contain important feeding areas for the dolphins and observations of live and stranded individuals provide evidence that they eat a wide range of fish, crustaceans and molluscs. Individual dolphins are known to go between the two SACs and this is proven using photo-identification, by using this method the team are able to map the distribution of these individuals along the Welsh coast. Boat behaviour within the two SACs is regulated due to the compulsory marine code of conduct which allows boats and dolphins to co-exist.
The two SACs are not only important for the bottlenose dolphins but also for grey seals in Cardigan Bay. Both SAC’s are home to a number of important pupping or non-pupping haul-out sites.
The team is lead by Katrin Lohrengel, Monitoring Officer (click here for Staff Profiles)
Research interns are invited to assist with the project between April and October. Each intern is trained in cetacean identification and observation and in line-transect survey protocols. In total there are six interns for each seven week period and all are involved in land-based and line-transect surveys in the Cardigan Bay area. Along with fieldwork the interns are responsible for the entry of land and boat-based data, the updating and maintenance of the bottlenose dolphin photo-identification catalogue. Other responsibilities include raising awareness by interacting with the public on New Quay pier.
The team is also joined by a research assistant during this time who is responsible for coordinating the interns and assists the monitoring officer in the running of the Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project.
The research vessels
Boat-based surveys are conducted using three different charter vessels. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our fantastic skippers for their patience and support during long days at sea!
Dunbar Castle II – New Quay Dolphin Spotting Boat Trips
Skipper: Graham Kennard
Pedryn – Natural Resources Wales
Skipper: Paul Turkentine
Skipper: Mike Harris