Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project – The Blog

A Night With Sea Watch

A Night with Sea Watch Poster

We would like to invite you to


The Sea Watch Foundation are a national charity dedicated to the conservation and research of marine mammals in British and Irish waters. The Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project is based in New Quay, Wales. It is responsible for the conservation management of the bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise and Atlantic grey seal populations of Cardigan Bay. 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.

A Night With Sea Watch Event details

Sunday 4th October 2015 

18:00 – 20:00

New Quay Memorial Hall

(Towyn Road, Penwig Fields, New Quay, Ceredigion SA45 9QQ)

No need to book just arrive roughly 15 minutes early. 

Refreshments will be available.


What’s in a name?

Written by Lana Turnbull, BSc (Hons) Animal Biology, SWF Research Intern 2015

Within the science research community it has long been known that giving an animal a human quality (a.k.a anthropomorphism) is a big no-no as it makes for bad science. Anthropomorphism can come in many forms such as emotions, behaviours and in the case of this blog post, names.

Here at Sea Watch we have seen a ‘few’ bottlenose dolphins pass through Cardigan Bay over the past two decades, well over 200 to be more precise and every one of these has been assigned a number (i.e. 025-046W) so we can catalogue their future movements and behaviours. However in some cases, where we see individuals on a regular basis within the bay they have acquired themselves a local name, for example Alfredo, Top Notch and even Gandalf!

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 14.46.55So why do we name the dolphins when the science community highly condemns it? 

Answering this question involves going off topic slightly (in terms of marine mammals). Earlier this year the death of Cecil the Lion sent the world into uproar. The man responsible for the lion’s downfall, Walter Palmer, was recently quoted as saying ‘If I had known this lion had a name…I wouldn’t have taken it’. He suggested that not the conservation status of the animal would have stopped him, but something as simple as a name would have.  His statement has since raised several questions over the importance of a name in the use of conservation. It got me thinking – is the use of a name more than identifying an individual or can it be used as a different approach to conservation?

For research purposes and for keeping our dolphin catalogue up to date, here at SWF the dolphins will first and foremost always be given a number, but if they become regularly sighted on our surveys then they may adopt a name.

Like many other marine research organisations, one of SWF’s aims is to encourage the public to get involved with the marine environment and increase their awareness. However to do this is sometimes harder than it sounds, especially when you’re telling them that dolphin 025_046W was spotted just down the bay. On the other hand when you tell them that Gandalf was seen leaping out of the water in the south of the bay people seem immediately more interested.

With a name such as 025_046W, it’s just a series of characters put together, whereas with a name such as Bond, it creates a character and with a character comes a story. Research has shown that we, as humans, have long been captivated by those who have things in common with us, and this can easily lead to compassion and understanding. This can quickly result in people wanting to become more involved with the conservation of a species.

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A name can evoke empathy in a person to the point where they want to help and contribute towards the problem which ultimately results in increased efforts which leads to the protection and conservation of a species.

At the end of the day, with or without a name, a dolphin is a dolphin, and nothing will change that. However the addition of a name we can possibly change perceptions and increase public involvement with our research. So as Shakespeare put it so simply, what’s in a name? More than an identity, apparently.




Whilst on the topic of names, we are currently running a competition where you can have the chance to name the calf of one of our regulars, Berry. The name will be used in our catalogues and in social media to monitor the calf’s behaviour in the future. Entry is only £1 and you can enter as many times as you like – however be quick as the closing date is the end of September!

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Help us fight the tide against marine debris!

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“The UK has some of the most beautiful coastline you could hope to find. But it is being ruined by a rising tide of litter that is increasing year on year. We need your help to tackle this menace!”

Are you ready to take action? Join the Sea Watch Foundation team on September 19th to clean up Traeth Y Dolau, New Quay and make a difference in your area! Along with the beach clean the Sea Watch team will be running activities for all on the pier including a chance to learn about the whales, dolphins and porpoises of the UK and Cardigan Bay, educational games, face painting and much more!

Sea Watch is working in association with the Marine Conservation Society Great British Beach Clean and the Ocean Conservancy 30th International Coastal Cleanup Day! Be part of the largest, single-day volunteer effort to fight marine debris! Last year, 560,000 volunteers from 91 countries participated in the cleanup effort and picked up more than 16 million pound of rubbish!  You can make a difference. Take the pledge to help turn the tide on marine debris and fight for a healthy ocean. 

See you on the sand!


Competition Time! Help give Berry’s calf a name!

Competition Time!

Can you think of the perfect name for Berry’s Calf?

Just £1 to enter your chosen name into the draw! So why not give it a go! 

Here’s how to enter…

Visiting New Quay, West Wales?

Then come see the Sea Watch team on the New Quay Pier daily from 9am – 7pm. 

Not from New Quay? Thats Okay!

Take part online by clicking the ‘donate’ button below. A donation of £1 will be taken from your chosen payment method and please remember to add your dolphin name entry in the ‘Add special instructions to seller’ section. Good luck!


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The funds raised from this competition will go towards The Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project which is based in New Quay, Wales. It is responsible for the conservation management of the bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise and grey seal populations of Cardigan Bay. Click here to find out more information.


  • Entries are to be submitted to a member of the Sea Watch team before 13:00 on the 30/09/15
  • Each name entered will cost £1
  • Participants may have multiple entries at a cost of £1 per name submitted
  • Three names will be selected by Sea Watch’s Monitoring Officer, Sightings Officer and Education and Awareness Assistant on the 30/09/15 after 13:00
  • The three selected names will be displayed on Facebook and the overall winner will be chosen by a public vote.
  • The winner will be contacted upon selection and their name will be displayed along with the winning dolphin name on this blog

NEW QUAY National Whale and Dolphin Watch Events

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For more information on all these fantastic activities contact Meg from Sea Watch on or call on 01545561227 – See you at the sea side!

A new kid on the block

New Quay harbour has been a hub of activity in the last few weeks with dolphins coming in close to shore, socialising, leaping and feeding close to the land and leaving little need to step foot on the boat- which is good as the weather conditions have not been favourable for boat based surveying. Some of our adoptable dolphins such as Chris and Smoothy have been regularly sighted close to New Quay pier, resting and sometimes feeding. We have also had a number of sightings of groups of juveniles banding together and socialising slightly further offshore, while the adults feed and rest closer in.

Weather allowing, our dedicated interns have, as every season, spent a large proportion of their time out on the pier recording dolphins and speaking to visitors to New Quay but when there are large numbers of dolphins and only one of them, it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes so we nip down from the office and give them a hand, usually by conducting photo-identification while they record data and explain to the lucky visitors what is happening and where the dolphins are.  Luckily our spectacular office view makes spotting dolphins easy even if we are not “on watch” and if we miss them and the dolphins come close, the person on watch always has a walkie talkie on them to call for help.

20140204_122632The stunning view from our office. Here we have blue winter skies taken by our Sightings Officer, Kathy James.

This week, a call for help resulted in a very exciting sighting. Our intern, Sean, called in alerting us to the presence of spectacularly leaping dolphins near the fish factory. I hurried out, keen to photograph the spectacular leaps, but mainly hoping for some photo-identification shots. Once I arrived at the fish factory, the excitement had died down a bit but I quickly spotted 5-6 dolphins, probably 3-4 adults and 2 juveniles, feeding intensely while being closely followed by a flock of gulls. And suddenly there was a flash of cream before I saw a tiny fluke disappear under the water. A very young calf, tiny compared to the adults around it, was eagerly trying to keep up with its mum and attempted a leap of its own. Judging by its size and the prominent stripes on its side, this was a very young animal, probably born this season. The group continued to feed for a while and I was able to observe it close hand. Its mum seemed quite relaxed and the calf wandered off on its own a few times, making exploratory leaps and on one occasion, swimming on its back- clearly this whole swimming business was still a novelty!

The first glimpse of our new Cardigan Bay youngster by Katrin Lohrengel.

The first glimpse of our new Cardigan Bay youngster by Katrin Lohrengel.

Another shot from  different sighting - the same individual? As we follow the fortunes of the population we'll be able to tell.

Another shot from different sighting – the same individual? As we follow the fortunes of the population we’ll be able to tell.

Unfortunately most of the individuals in the groups were poorly marked or ‘clean’  meaning their fins are not distinctive enough to identify them easily, so we were unable to identify the mother of the new addition to the Cardigan Bay population at this point. It is likely that most of the adults in the group were females, based on the presence of the juveniles. At one point three animals surfaced in a row, all looking to be of different sizes which made it look like 3 generations of dolphins, grandma, young mum and calf, grandma maybe helping her unexperienced daughter with the new arrival- but that would of course be unacceptable conjecture from a scientific point of view! That being said, it is not uncommon for female dolphins to continue to associate with their mothers , even once they have gained their independence, so maybe it’s not that far -fetched after all!

The Sea Watch Foundation team will try to keep a close eye on this new addition whilst they survey the bottlenose dolphins of the region. Photo by Katrin Lohrengel.

The Sea Watch Foundation team will try to keep a close eye on this new addition whilst they survey the bottlenose dolphins of the region. Photo by Katrin Lohrengel.

by Katrin Lohrengel, Sea Watch Foundation’s Monitoring Officer.