Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project – The Blog

What a Fluke!

Three Oystercatchers made a welcome appearance at the pier. Although called Oystercatchers they actually prefer to eat mussels and cockles and use that bright orange bill  to break into the shells. Each individual inherits a distinctive technique to do this and as such the feeding habits can vary.


(C) SWF/John Pye

After the birds left, all went quite until i spotted a dolphin  by the fish factory. The solitary animal was showing signs of feeding behavior, with long dives in and around the same area. This made it quite hard to get a picture but i just about managed to get this lucky shot.  If this where a humpback whale the picture would have been perfect as they use the markings on the tail fin for identification purposes however when working with Bottlenose dolphins we need a side view of the dorsal fin to identify individuals.


(C) SWF/John Pye


Training Weekend

Last weekend Seawatch Foundation held one of its brilliant training courses. The morning was filled with excellent lectures from Dr Dussan-Duque and in the afternoon the participants headed down to the pier to put into practice their newly gained skills. As luck would have it the dolphins appeared right on cue. Through the Pierwatch camera i managed to get this picture of two dolphins about 700m offshore.

(c) John Pye/ Sea Watch Foundation

(c) John Pye/ Sea Watch Foundation

Just my Luck

Its been a while since my  last blog. Unfortunately the weather has been starting to change  and during the odd sunny spell the dolphins haven’t been playing ball.  However last Friday the sun came out and i set off for an early morning Pier watch, i arrived at the pier just after 7.00am and  set up my equipment. My confidence was  bolstered  by the fact that the dolphins had been spotted around 8.00am the previous 2 mornings. So all i had to do was wait……… and wait….7.30am nothing……..8.00am nothing…….. and wait. By 9.00 i was a defeated man and began to call it a day, i had all my equipment packed up and was heading off the pier. Then out of the corner of my eye i saw the splash i had been waiting for. Not 1 but a group of 6 dolphins appeared. I rushed to unpack and began to set the equipment back up. The group displayed signs of suspecting feeding and impressive aerial behavior. By the time i had set up they had calmed down a bit but i still managed to get a few impressive pictures.


(C) SWF/ John Pye


(C)SWF/ JohnPye


(C) SWF/John Pye


Camera Practice

After a weekend of watching digiscope tutorials online and reading web page after web page I feel I have finally begun to get to grips with the basics.If you, like myself are new to the digiscope world check out this great blog. . Knowing how good this equipment and seeing some of the amazing pictures people have taken has really inspired me.

So this morning I finally set off down to New Quay Pier, the water was choppy but the sun was shining and my enthusiasm was sky high.  I began by changing the settings to Av mode and having a play with the ISO and aperture. I was pretty please with the initial results, the sharpness and focus has definitely improved from my last attempt IMG_0489


With my confidence growing i decided to take some pictures of moving images, the boys  from Dolphin Spotting Boats trips made a perfect target. The weather may have been to rough for the main boat to go out but that sure looks a lot of fun!!  This was probably my best shot of the day and the change to Av mode certainly helped.


Shortly after i managed to snap a flying gull. This was significantly further out  than the boat and tested my skills even more, having to sort the camera out and keep the bird in the field of vision was certainly  a challenge but i feel i managed a decent job. IMG_0526

With all this practicing i felt it was about time for some dolphins to show themselves and within about 15 minutes they surely did. The conditions weren’t ideal and the dolphins where a long way out but excuses aside i feel the picture below is an improvement on last week and hopefully a sign of things to come.   IMG_0533


I just cant wait to get back out on the pier and take some more fantastic shots, bring on tomorrow……..

Cloudy with a chance of Dolphins


The weather was pretty miserable and the elements looked against us but we still managed to get down to the pier with the camera and digiscope. After about 2 hours of watching it seemed like it was going to be a fruitless day, then just as we were packing up a solitary dolphin made an appearance.



(C) John Pye/Seawatch Foundation


(c) John Pye/ Seawatch Foundation

Having arrived to New Quay only a week ago i am still getting to grips with the camera and its set up. As you can see from the pictures above they are both a bit blury and out of focus. Scientifically we cannot use these images to identify this dolphin for our research.  However, informally  we believe this individual may have been Snowflake.  Below is a picture of Snowflakes fin from our master catalog, this is an example of the type of quality that we need. Now I just need to go and practice with the fantastic equipment so that we have some great pictures for future identification.

118-02W_L_090615_049_Dunbar_EGR _093a_1

(C)Seawatch Foundation







Dolphins in the rain.

Friday started with torrential rain, but that didn’t deter us from heading out onto New Quay pier in the hope of seeing some dolphins. We were rewarded by some bright, sunny spells and many groups of dolphins turning up. There were lots of different behaviours on display; some individuals just hanging around swimming normally, while others were more acrobatic, leaping partly through the water or jumping out fully! They seemed totally unaffected by the passing showers.

Sadly the unpredictable showers meant we couldn’t risk getting out the digiscope, but we did manage to get some shots of a close individual in one of the dryer moments using the camera. This particular dolphin kept appearing close to the pier, delighting passers by, and then heading further out towards the cardinal buoy to join another dolphin out there.

(c) Sea Watch Foundation/Imogen Cavadino

(c) Sea Watch Foundation/Imogen Cavadino

As you can see, the dolphin photographed close to the pier does not have any clear nicks or notches, which are crucial markers for photo identification, making it very tricky to know which individual we saw today.

Here’s hoping for better weather on Saturday, or our sand sculpture competition will be washed away!


Imogen Cavadino


Sea Watch Intern