Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project – The Blog

When the pod’s away, the rest will play!

Hello there!

Despite the fact that many of the Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphins spend the winter months feeding in North Wales in the seas around Anglesey and Liverpool Bay, there’s a resident gang that can still be spotted on these cold winter days.

Pier Watch 3rd December 2013

Using our new digiscope from the Pier Watch initiative we were able to take these snaps of nine dolphins socialising and having what appeared to be a lovely time off shore from New Quay!

Pier Watch 3rd December 2013

This pod were quite distant and because the photographs didn’t come out as well as we’d have liked, we’ve not been able to identify them. However, our monitoring officer, Daphna, was in no doubt that this was a group of females and their young calves making the most of a relatively quiet Cardigan Bay

We look forward to receiving more of your exciting sightings!

Smoothy, Tigger and Voldermort seen in New Quay harbour

Hello everyone,

As New Quay enjoys a surprisingly calm day, the dolphins come out to play. A group of two adults and two calves were seen swimming between the cardinal buoy and the pier and appeared to be feeding. One pair was identified as Chris and her calf Tigger, who is now old enough to swim a little further away from mum.

The other adult was Voldermort, named when it was spotted and photographed (see photo below) killing a harbour porpoise in Cardigan Bay. This is thought to occur because both species have the same prey and that the dolphins might try to eliminate the competition when food is scarce. Voldermort was first seen in 2003 and until now has never been seen with a calf so thought to be male, however today she was spotted with a newborn calf! We do not decide whether it is definitely female until it has been seen with a calf three times but as it was a very young newborn without any other adult dolphins close by it seems likely that it is hers!

Keep reading this blog to find out about the dolphins seen in Cardigan Bay!

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Newborns return to New Quay harbour!

Hi everyone,

This week we have noticed the group of dolphins including the mothers and newborns returning to the harbour. If you are still in the area, this is a great time to see dolphins and their young up close! At least 8 dolphins were seen in the bay; among these dolphins were Berry with her newborn, Smoothy and another calf. Daphna, our monitoring officer here in New Quay, along with members of the public enjoying the sun watched Berry and her newborn right by the pier where she appeared to be feeding. Another mum and newborn joined them for a while before heading back out to the rest of the group at the Cardinal buoy which were busy socialising.

You can see in the pictures below that the newborns lift their heads right out of the water when they surface to breathe, sometimes resulting in a ‘chin-slap’. This is because they are still learning where their blowhole is located and lift their heads much higher than necessary. You can also see the foetal folds on the newborn (vertical lines up the body). These are creases in the skin caused by the way they were curled up in the womb and can be seen for about 6 weeks after they are born.

Keep watching this page for more updates on the dolphins here in Cardigan Bay!


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Newborn dolphins seen in New Quay harbour

Hello everyone,

We’ve had an exciting week here in New Quay, with several newborn dolphins spending time in the harbour! Eight bottlenose dolphins, including Smoothy, Floppy and Berry were seen feeding in the bay with three newborn calves. Daphna, our Monitoring Officer here in Cardigan Bay, was lucky enough to photograph them which you can see below. Two of the mothers have been identified as Berry and Smoothy but unfortunately the third mother was too far out for Daphna to be able to name. Whilst Smoothy, Floppy, the other five adults and two of the calves were leaping out by the Cardinal buoy, Berry and her newborn calf were seen right on the pier entrance giving all the spectators a wonderful glimpse of early life as a dolphin.

As you can see in some of the pictures, the dolphins have their tails straight up in the air as they prepare to dive down to the sea floor. They have come into shallower waters where it is safe to leave their calves whilst diving to feed.

Berry, seen in the close up shots with her newborn calf, was actually called Barry until recently as she was thought to be male! It was only when she had a calf that we realised she was in fact a female and has now been renamed to Berry!

Keep watching this page for more updates about the dolphins here in Cardigan Bay!

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Introducing the “Pier Watch Project”

We are very happy to announce that thanks to funding from Environment Wales, the Pier Watch Project is being launched this autumn. Based in New Quay, West Wales, this project aims to collect photo-ID data of bottlenose dolphins. This technique has been used for many years by the Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project during boat-based surveys. Using the nics and notches which bottlenose dolphins acquire throughout their lives on their dorsal fin, researchers are able to identify individual dolphins from photos taken in the field. Over the years, this data has enabled Sea Watch researchers to calculate bottlenose dolphin population estimates for Cardigan Bay and gather data on the life histories of these animals.

Every year, New Quay Bay is frequented by a number of recognisable dolphins who come to feed or socialise in its sheltered waters. To the delight of tourists and researchers alike, the animals are easily visible from New Quay pier but up until now, the majority of these sightings have taken place just outside the reach of Sea Watch’s photographic equipment and so the animals have gone unidentified. Thanks to the Environment Wales grant we have been able to purchase a telephoto lens powerful enough to identify animals located up to one kilometer away. All the data gathered on New Quay pier will be summarised in regular blog posts in the Pier Watch Project Blog.

This project has been set up in memory of Dave Bennett who could often be spotted enjoying the dolphins antics off New Quay Pier. Many thanks to Delyth his wife for her unwavering support.

Many thanks also to all those who wrote letters to Environment Wales in support of our application for funding for this project!!!