Last week was another busy week on the water for the Sea Watch team. They were out on survey on Tuesday and Thursday; with both line transect trips providing numerous sightings of Atlantic grey seals, harbour porpoises and bottlenose dolphins, including our first new born dolphin of the season! Both surveys last week were carried out in Cardigan Bay SAC on the Dunbar Castle II.
Tuesday’s survey provided 3 encounters with bottlenose dolphins and saw porpoise and seals galore! While passing between the headland and island at Cardigan, we spotted 10 seals within 20 minutes, both in the water, popping up to watch our boat pass by and lounging on the rocks sunning themselves, making the most of the good weather! In total we had sighting of 18 harbour porpoise and 21 seals! During our dolphin encounters, we managed to make recordings of the sounds the dolphins were making to communicate with each other, using a hydrophone, where we drop a microphone into the sea and listen to the clicks and whistles the dolphins are making. We also carried out photo identification during the encounters, where we photograph the fin of each individual in order to allow us to accurately identify each individual dolphin, and map the distribution range of individuals along the coast of Wales. Behavioural data was also recorded during the encounters, they put on quite the show for us and we recorded them socializing, bow-riding, leaping and tail slapping!
Thursday’s survey was cut short when the rain arrived in the afternoon, but our slightly depleted crew were rewarded with 3 more encounters with bottlenose dolphins and again spotted more porpoises and seals. Our first encounter again happened before we had even left the harbour! During our second dolphin encounter of the day we spotted our first new born calf of the season, less than half the size of its mother and never leaving her side! Cardigan bay SAC is a particularly important area for bottlenose dolphin reproduction as the shallow and sheltered waters are ideal for rearing their young, therefore Cardigan Bay SAC is especially important for assessing the reproductive success of bottlenose dolphins.