It’s official; bottlenose dolphins have returned to the Yorkshire coast!
The first bottlenose dolphin sighting reported in the North East of England this ‘season’ was at Tynemouth on the 12th of April. After visiting Yorkshire, the dolphins returned to Sunderland on the 18th of May, and then made their way to Whitburn, where they were sighted on May 22nd. On the 27th of May, a group consisting of about 15-20 individuals was observed from the Mary Ann Hepworth tour boat and appeared to be engaging in foraging behaviour. The sighting took place approximately half a mile off the pier at Whitby, and the group was seen heading east towards Scarborough.
It is quite probable that this same group was sighted again; this time on the 26th of April at Filey Brigg, and then again at Scarborough.
Sea Watch Foundation Yorkshire regional coordinator, Robin Petch suggests that the observed group may be part of the Scottish Moray Firth population, one of the two known resident bottlenose dolphin populations in the UK. The first report of dolphins travelling from Moray Firth further south to England was in May 2009. Then a dolphin from this population was sighted in Yorkshire, and after being photographed was later identified as “Number 9” or “Guinness”.
If all of these reported sightings are indeed of the same group, originating from the Moray Firth population, then they have travelled a total distance of approximately 350 miles!
We are very much looking forward to the opportunity of seeing these dolphins again in the near future in the hope of taking more pictures of their dorsal fins in order to identify the individuals, and to confirm they belong to Moray Firth population.
If anyone has any recent sightings of bottlenose dolphins in the area and has good quality photos of their dorsal fins, please share them with us via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sea Watch Foundation Research Intern