It’s the Year of the Sea and the staff at Sea Watch Foundation are looking for marine mammal enthusiasts around Wales who want to help to collect records of whales, dolphins and porpoises and become involved in their marine conservation work!
In 2018 Wales is celebrating the Year of the Sea and its outstanding coastline which includes a 1400 km coastal path, 230 beaches and 50 islands. Wales is almost entirely surrounded by the sea which is home to a wide range of species including birds, seals, whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
Sea Watch Foundation has monitored whales, dolphins and porpoises in British and Irish waters for over forty years with the help of volunteer citizen scientists who have reported presence, location and numbers of cetaceans from around the country. For the past 16 years this has been spearheaded through an annual national recording event, the National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW). The event this year is taking place from Saturday 28th July until Sunday 5th August 2018 and it marks the long-lasting collaboration between citizen scientists, wildlife enthusiasts, the general public and researchers alike.
Large numbers of sightings of bottlenose dolphins have been reported this year to Sea Watch huge database of records. Observers have been witnessing bottlenose dolphins joining flocks of gannets in a mad feeding frenzy off Pen-y-Cil, North Wales, they have seen them bow-riding, fast swimming and leaping out of the water from people’s houses in Bull Bay. In Cardigan Bay, pods of bottlenose dolphins have been regularly sighted including several mother-calf pairs. Harbour porpoises are the second most common species of cetacean to encounter in the area, and from land people have sighted them easily and seen them leaping, feeding and occurring in mixed age classes this year. Risso’s dolphins and short-beaked common dolphin have been sighted in Pembrokeshire to around Anglesey. Lucky land whale watchers and boat passengers have also been amazed to spot common minke whales off the South Stack in Anglesey and off St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire where a 5m whale was caught into a close-up footage circling and rolling in belly up around a commercial fishing boat.
Lots will be happening during this National Whale and Dolphin Watch’s Year of the Sea event from beach cleans to cliff walks to land watches all around the shores and boat watches offered by the many recommended boat operators Sea Watch collaborates in the region.
All you need to bring with you is patience, a lot of enthusiasm, binoculars, and sightings forms and a cetacean identification guide (downloadable from the Sea Watch website). We are suggesting for people to conduct their land watches for a minimum of one hour and to work in groups to take turns during data collection. If you are an experienced watcher, you can easily identify species and fill in our website forms. If it is the first time for you, there are manned sites around the country where experienced watchers will be available to assist first timers.
Accredited wildlife tour operators and other recommended dolphin watching companies in Wales are also taking part in the weekend (details can be found at: http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/wales-boat-operators/). Please note that spaces on most boat trips need to be reserved first. Prices vary for these trips and you should contact the relevant operator directly. All marine wildlife operators abide by a voluntary code of conduct.
‘People do not often realize how many different cetacean species they can sight from land or at sea in Wales without travelling abroad to have a close encounter with these amazing creatures’, says Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sightings Officer for Sea Watch Foundation.
‘This 9-days event will involve people in collecting records of whales, dolphins and porpoises and it will help us obtained a detailed and complete cetacean audit of the state of our local cetacean populations’ added Chiara.
‘The important thing for us is to show people that they can actively contribute in our cetacean conservation project and we do that by offering families a chance to enjoy the outdoor and to play an active role in the protection of the marine environment and its inhabitants’ concluded Chiara.
The National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2018 is just two weeks away and the research charity behind the event are urging people to register now to run watches of their own to contribute valuable data for the protection of these magnificent species!
Please get in touch to find out more and to take part!
Find out more about the event: www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw
Register your own watch: http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw-2018/
To view the 2017 National Whale & Dolphin Watch Report: