Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project – The Blog

Help us fight the tide against marine debris!

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 15.57.54

“The UK has some of the most beautiful coastline you could hope to find. But it is being ruined by a rising tide of litter that is increasing year on year. We need your help to tackle this menace!”

Are you ready to take action? Join the Sea Watch Foundation team on September 19th to clean up Traeth Y Dolau, New Quay and make a difference in your area! Along with the beach clean the Sea Watch team will be running activities for all on the pier including a chance to learn about the whales, dolphins and porpoises of the UK and Cardigan Bay, educational games, face painting and much more!

Sea Watch is working in association with the Marine Conservation Society Great British Beach Clean and the Ocean Conservancy 30th International Coastal Cleanup Day! Be part of the largest, single-day volunteer effort to fight marine debris! Last year, 560,000 volunteers from 91 countries participated in the cleanup effort and picked up more than 16 million pound of rubbish!  You can make a difference. Take the pledge to help turn the tide on marine debris and fight for a healthy ocean. 

See you on the sand!


Competition Time! Help give Berry’s calf a name!

Competition Time!

Can you think of the perfect name for Berry’s Calf?

Just £1 to enter your chosen name into the draw! So why not give it a go! 

Here’s how to enter…

Visiting New Quay, West Wales?

Then come see the Sea Watch team on the New Quay Pier daily from 9am – 7pm. 

Not from New Quay? Thats Okay!

Take part online by clicking the ‘donate’ button below. A donation of £1 will be taken from your chosen payment method and please remember to add your dolphin name entry in the ‘Add special instructions to seller’ section. Good luck!


Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 12.02.25

The funds raised from this competition will go towards The Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project which is based in New Quay, Wales. It is responsible for the conservation management of the bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise and grey seal populations of Cardigan Bay. Click here to find out more information.


  • Entries are to be submitted to a member of the Sea Watch team before 13:00 on the 30/09/15
  • Each name entered will cost £1
  • Participants may have multiple entries at a cost of £1 per name submitted
  • Three names will be selected by Sea Watch’s Monitoring Officer, Sightings Officer and Education and Awareness Assistant on the 30/09/15 after 13:00
  • The three selected names will be displayed on Facebook and the overall winner will be chosen by a public vote.
  • The winner will be contacted upon selection and their name will be displayed along with the winning dolphin name on this blog

NEW QUAY National Whale and Dolphin Watch Events

NWDW A4 poster wo address


For more information on all these fantastic activities contact Meg from Sea Watch on or call on 01545561227 – See you at the sea side!

A new kid on the block

New Quay harbour has been a hub of activity in the last few weeks with dolphins coming in close to shore, socialising, leaping and feeding close to the land and leaving little need to step foot on the boat- which is good as the weather conditions have not been favourable for boat based surveying. Some of our adoptable dolphins such as Chris and Smoothy have been regularly sighted close to New Quay pier, resting and sometimes feeding. We have also had a number of sightings of groups of juveniles banding together and socialising slightly further offshore, while the adults feed and rest closer in.

Weather allowing, our dedicated interns have, as every season, spent a large proportion of their time out on the pier recording dolphins and speaking to visitors to New Quay but when there are large numbers of dolphins and only one of them, it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes so we nip down from the office and give them a hand, usually by conducting photo-identification while they record data and explain to the lucky visitors what is happening and where the dolphins are.  Luckily our spectacular office view makes spotting dolphins easy even if we are not “on watch” and if we miss them and the dolphins come close, the person on watch always has a walkie talkie on them to call for help.

20140204_122632The stunning view from our office. Here we have blue winter skies taken by our Sightings Officer, Kathy James.

This week, a call for help resulted in a very exciting sighting. Our intern, Sean, called in alerting us to the presence of spectacularly leaping dolphins near the fish factory. I hurried out, keen to photograph the spectacular leaps, but mainly hoping for some photo-identification shots. Once I arrived at the fish factory, the excitement had died down a bit but I quickly spotted 5-6 dolphins, probably 3-4 adults and 2 juveniles, feeding intensely while being closely followed by a flock of gulls. And suddenly there was a flash of cream before I saw a tiny fluke disappear under the water. A very young calf, tiny compared to the adults around it, was eagerly trying to keep up with its mum and attempted a leap of its own. Judging by its size and the prominent stripes on its side, this was a very young animal, probably born this season. The group continued to feed for a while and I was able to observe it close hand. Its mum seemed quite relaxed and the calf wandered off on its own a few times, making exploratory leaps and on one occasion, swimming on its back- clearly this whole swimming business was still a novelty!

The first glimpse of our new Cardigan Bay youngster by Katrin Lohrengel.

The first glimpse of our new Cardigan Bay youngster by Katrin Lohrengel.

Another shot from  different sighting - the same individual? As we follow the fortunes of the population we'll be able to tell.

Another shot from different sighting – the same individual? As we follow the fortunes of the population we’ll be able to tell.

Unfortunately most of the individuals in the groups were poorly marked or ‘clean’  meaning their fins are not distinctive enough to identify them easily, so we were unable to identify the mother of the new addition to the Cardigan Bay population at this point. It is likely that most of the adults in the group were females, based on the presence of the juveniles. At one point three animals surfaced in a row, all looking to be of different sizes which made it look like 3 generations of dolphins, grandma, young mum and calf, grandma maybe helping her unexperienced daughter with the new arrival- but that would of course be unacceptable conjecture from a scientific point of view! That being said, it is not uncommon for female dolphins to continue to associate with their mothers , even once they have gained their independence, so maybe it’s not that far -fetched after all!

The Sea Watch Foundation team will try to keep a close eye on this new addition whilst they survey the bottlenose dolphins of the region. Photo by Katrin Lohrengel.

The Sea Watch Foundation team will try to keep a close eye on this new addition whilst they survey the bottlenose dolphins of the region. Photo by Katrin Lohrengel.

by Katrin Lohrengel, Sea Watch Foundation’s Monitoring Officer.

Something’s fishy!

We have been fairly lucky with the weather here the past week or so and we’ve had some lovely sunny days – great dolphin spotting weather! So last week was the first chance that I’ve had to practice with the pier watch equipment whilst there have been dolphins close to the harbour wall. I am relatively new to using DSLR camera equipment but am familiar with all the various settings but this was a whole new experience as I have not had much practice with manual focus. It is hard enough to get decent photos of such a mobile animal when you have a fast autofocus let alone when you have to use manual. As you can see below I have some room to improve!

(C) Louise Russell, Sea Watch Foundation

This particular mother and calf pair were spotted at 15:50 about 100m from New Quay pier. They were in the area for around 45 minutes and were displaying feeding behaviour. Feeding behaviour often involves swimming in various directions, some splashes and long dives as well as the occasional leap or tail slap among other behaviours.

(C) Louise Russell, Sea Watch Foundation

There were certainly lots of fish around to attract the dolphins along with the abundant local sea bird population. Several schools of fish were seen jumping over the surface of the water and some were washed onto the rocks by the waves. As you can imagine it was something of an all you can buffet for the seagulls

(C) Louise Russell, Sea Watch Foundation

The mother and calf stayed a fair bit out from the pier for a while so to practice with the manual focus and moving animals I tried taking some shots of flying birds which I think worked out well for a beginner with the digiscope.

(C) Louise Russell, Sea Watch Foundation

(C) Louise Russell, Sea Watch Foundation

The photo below shows what can be achieved when you have a bit more practice with the digiscope and when the dolphins come in closer

(C) John Pye, Sea Watch Foundation

By Louise Russell


How high can a dolphin leap?


Tuesday saw some real aerial acrobatics from the dolphins of Cardigan Bay starting with a mother and calf putting on a show for the tour boats. A solid ten minutes of half body breaches and full on leaps in the early evening off the fish factory made the last few trips of the day something to remember. If that wasn’t enough an hour later a group of no less than 6 adult bottlenoses dolphins put in an appearance at the same spot and proceeded to leap spectacularly into the air, one explosive jump reaching over 2 meters out of the water. Leaping by dolphins is thought to be an energy saving tool while fast swimming but may also be part of social interaction or simply having fun.  Bottlenose dolphins can breach up to 4.9 meters into the air and spinner dolphins have been seen to breach up to 5.4 meters

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


By John Ball