Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project – The Blog

The Launch of Pier Watch 2014

Friday 25th April 2014 saw the launch of our new Pier Watch project. This took place at New Quay Yacht Club and was well attended by people from the local community, including our local MP Mark Williams and Geraint Hughes from Environment Wales.

Geraint Hughes from Environment Wales

Geraint Hughes from Environment Wales

After an introduction from Mr Williams, Mr Hughes and our Sightings Officer Kathy James, everyone was invited to join us out on the pier to have a go with the digiscope. Unfortunately no dolphins were around at the time, but there was still plenty of bird life to test the equipment out with.

MP Mark Williams being shown how to use the digiscope

MP Mark Williams being shown how to use the digiscope

It’s thanks to the support of the local community that we were able to gain funding for the digiscope and launch the new project. We are especially grateful to the friends and family of Dave Bennett, who clubbed together to raise funds for Sea Watch. Dave, along with his wife Delyth, was a keen supporter of the Sea Watch Foundation and we dedicate this project to his memory. On Wednesday 23rd April our staff and interns joined Delyth and her family for the official unveiling of the equipment.

Delyth cutting the ribbon on our Digiscope

Delyth cutting the ribbon on our Digiscope

They also got a chance to test out the digiscope for themselves, though the damp weather meant we had to use it indoors. We also unveiled our new Pier Watch jackets, dedicated to Dave.

Our staff, interns and Dave's family viewing the equipment and jackets.

Our staff, interns and Dave’s family viewing the equipment and jackets.

This equipment is important as it can provide us with high quality photos of the bottlenose dolphins and increases our ability to recognise the known individuals in Cardigan Bay that come in close to New Quay Pier. It’s also a fantastic way to get the public involved, so you can come and experience for yourselves how photo ID works.

Once again we must thank everyone in the local community for their support, as it’s thanks to you that we were able to gain the funding for this project to go ahead.

Everyone having a go with the Digiscope out on the pier

A family having a go with the digiscope out on the pier

Come and join us on New Quay Pier during the afternoons this summer to have a go with the digiscope yourself and join us in taking photos of the dolphins. Also keep checking back at this blog for future updates and information on what we have seen.

A Sneak Peek at Our New Digiscope

We were delighted to have a visit from one of our proud Dolphin Adoptee’s Emily on her birthday. She had traveled with her family all the way from North Devon to visit our offices in New Quay, and was rewarded with a sneak peek at our new Pierwatch Digiscope.

Sightings Officer Kathy, Emily & the digiscope.

Sightings Officer Kathy, Emily & the digiscope.

Emily has been a fantastic supporter of Sea Watch for several years. In January 2013 she organised a Beach Clean at Crow Point. Not only did she raise over £200 for Sea Watch, but she also cleared lots of litter from our beaches to prevent it from entering our seas and our animals. This year she is continuing to support our Adopt-A-Dolphin Scheme by sponsoring Nic Nic, one of our regular visitors here in Cardigan Bay.

After a personal tour around our office and an explanation of the project, we took Emily and her family out on to New Quay pier to try out our Pierwatch Digiscope. The digiscope uses a special camera to take amazing quality photographs of dolphins from the land, allowing us to photo identify the dolphins we see from the pier.

Explaining the Digiscope

Explaining the Digiscope

Everyone had a great time looking through the Digiscope and learning more about our photo ID work. It was a delight to meet such an enthusiastic and interested young supporter of Sea Watch, and we look forward to hearing more from Emily soon.

Emily & her family on New Quay Pier

Emily & her family on New Quay Pier

Here at Sea Watch we are always pleased to meet our supporters, as it is thanks to them we have the funding and support for projects like these.

Come at see our new digiscope in action at the launch of our Pierwatch Project on Friday 22nd April at New Quay Yacht Club. Join us at 12.30pm for refreshments and an introduction to the project and its funders.

 

If you don’t support us all ready, why not adopt a dolphin of your own and help us continue to protect these beautiful animals: www.adoptadolphin.org.uk

 

Sea Watch Foundation

When the pod’s away, the rest will play!

Hello there!

Despite the fact that many of the Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphins spend the winter months feeding in North Wales in the seas around Anglesey and Liverpool Bay, there’s a resident gang that can still be spotted on these cold winter days.

Pier Watch 3rd December 2013

Using our new digiscope from the Pier Watch initiative we were able to take these snaps of nine dolphins socialising and having what appeared to be a lovely time off shore from New Quay!

Pier Watch 3rd December 2013

This pod were quite distant and because the photographs didn’t come out as well as we’d have liked, we’ve not been able to identify them. However, our monitoring officer, Daphna, was in no doubt that this was a group of females and their young calves making the most of a relatively quiet Cardigan Bay

We look forward to receiving more of your exciting sightings!

Smoothy, Tigger and Voldermort seen in New Quay harbour

Hello everyone,

As New Quay enjoys a surprisingly calm day, the dolphins come out to play. A group of two adults and two calves were seen swimming between the cardinal buoy and the pier and appeared to be feeding. One pair was identified as Chris and her calf Tigger, who is now old enough to swim a little further away from mum.

The other adult was Voldermort, named when it was spotted and photographed (see photo below) killing a harbour porpoise in Cardigan Bay. This is thought to occur because both species have the same prey and that the dolphins might try to eliminate the competition when food is scarce. Voldermort was first seen in 2003 and until now has never been seen with a calf so thought to be male, however today she was spotted with a newborn calf! We do not decide whether it is definitely female until it has been seen with a calf three times but as it was a very young newborn without any other adult dolphins close by it seems likely that it is hers!

Keep reading this blog to find out about the dolphins seen in Cardigan Bay!

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Newborns return to New Quay harbour!

Hi everyone,

This week we have noticed the group of dolphins including the mothers and newborns returning to the harbour. If you are still in the area, this is a great time to see dolphins and their young up close! At least 8 dolphins were seen in the bay; among these dolphins were Berry with her newborn, Smoothy and another calf. Daphna, our monitoring officer here in New Quay, along with members of the public enjoying the sun watched Berry and her newborn right by the pier where she appeared to be feeding. Another mum and newborn joined them for a while before heading back out to the rest of the group at the Cardinal buoy which were busy socialising.

You can see in the pictures below that the newborns lift their heads right out of the water when they surface to breathe, sometimes resulting in a ‘chin-slap’. This is because they are still learning where their blowhole is located and lift their heads much higher than necessary. You can also see the foetal folds on the newborn (vertical lines up the body). These are creases in the skin caused by the way they were curled up in the womb and can be seen for about 6 weeks after they are born.

Keep watching this page for more updates on the dolphins here in Cardigan Bay!

 

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Newborn dolphins seen in New Quay harbour

Hello everyone,

We’ve had an exciting week here in New Quay, with several newborn dolphins spending time in the harbour! Eight bottlenose dolphins, including Smoothy, Floppy and Berry were seen feeding in the bay with three newborn calves. Daphna, our Monitoring Officer here in Cardigan Bay, was lucky enough to photograph them which you can see below. Two of the mothers have been identified as Berry and Smoothy but unfortunately the third mother was too far out for Daphna to be able to name. Whilst Smoothy, Floppy, the other five adults and two of the calves were leaping out by the Cardinal buoy, Berry and her newborn calf were seen right on the pier entrance giving all the spectators a wonderful glimpse of early life as a dolphin.

As you can see in some of the pictures, the dolphins have their tails straight up in the air as they prepare to dive down to the sea floor. They have come into shallower waters where it is safe to leave their calves whilst diving to feed.

Berry, seen in the close up shots with her newborn calf, was actually called Barry until recently as she was thought to be male! It was only when she had a calf that we realised she was in fact a female and has now been renamed to Berry!

Keep watching this page for more updates about the dolphins here in Cardigan Bay!

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