A splash, a bubble and a fin and another, oh it’s a mother and her calf again, dancing around the boats.
I arrived on the pier just before twelve on the 1st of July and was treated to a spectacular sight; a mother and calf pair were happily socialising in the harbour area, casually surfacing in between the moored boats. Many curious members of the public watched on from the pier and boats alike. Both cameras and binoculars were out to steal a sight and a memory of these fantastic creatures and such a treat to have them so close! The mother didn’t seem too fazed by the numerous vessels encircling around the pair, which included a range of dolphin tour boats, yachts, kayaks and speedboats. However, when a swimmer got a little bit too close she did what any sensible mother would; veered off to give the swimmer a wide birth and undertook a series of long dives, until the pair eventually popped up on the other side of the pier. The pair then proceeded to play around a big orange buoy for approximately five minutes. However, as with all good things the encounter came to an end when the mother and calf pair decided to undertake a series of long dives and exited the area via the headland as the sea state increased along with the concentration of vessels.
So why am I here watching these dolphins? Well I’m a masters student studying at Bangor University, currently collecting data for my thesis. The main aim of my research is to see if dolphins change their behaviour in response to vessel presence and activity. I will also be monitoring to see if dolphins behave differently to different types of vessel and try to determine the cause of each response. For example, a dolphin may respond negatively to kayaks but respond in a positive manor to tour boats and cetacean research vessels. Cardigan Bay is a great place to carry out this research as it has a semi-resident bottlenose dolphin population which can be easily seen at New Quay for the the majority of the summer. It is believed that the semi-resident population have become used to particular boats, while the dolphins which only occasionally visit the bay are not and may respond more negatively to vessels. My task is to see if this is the case!
Student at Bangor University