The Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project team have carried out the first line transect surveys for the 2013 research season. Groups of harbour porpoise, grey seal and bottlenose dolphin were spotted, which will help in determining the abundance and distribution of these marine mammals, and will additionally provide further information on life history strategies of our semi-resident population of bottlenose dolphins within Cardigan Bay.
On the initial survey day in the Pen Llyn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the survey team came across a group of 28 bottlenose dolphins and included a number of juveniles, and calves.
The following survey took place in the southern SAC which stretches from Aberaeron to Cemaes Head along the Ceredigion coastline. This time, four sightings of grey seal, four sightings of harbour porpoise and two sightings of bottlenose dolphin were recorded. One group of bottlenose dolphin that were seen included a group of ten individuals, together with juveniles and calves. These shallow, sheltered waters of the Cardigan Bay SAC also provide ideal habitat for bottlenose dolphins to nurse their young, and sightings of newborns and calves will hopefully increase in this area in the coming months.
In addition to the dedicated line transect survey trips, three bottlenose dolphins were also sighted around the headland at Ynys Lochtyn in the Cardigan Bay SAC, in a trip that was organised for the Seawatch AGM. One of the bottlenose dolphins that were sighted during this trip was seen only few days ago on one of the line transect trips within the Pen Llyn a’r Sarnau SAC, and shows that some bottlenose dolphins are travelling large distances within Cardigan Bay in a short space of time. The boat trip was followed by an informative talk by Peter Evans, the director of Seawatch, on the effects of renewable energy on cetaceans within Northern Europe. Marine mammals are effected by the sounds that are produced as a result of marine renewable projects, such as wind farm construction. On a positive note, the talk highlighted that recent research has found that the use of bubble curtains around construction sites could reduce the impact of sound on marine mammals during the construction phase. Overall an enjoyable and productive week, with lots of sightings of marine mammals!