Getting to the point, this is what I want to tell you about. Bottlenose dolphins in New Quay!
First sighting of two bottlenose dolphins, next to the cardinal buoy in New Quay
But, let’s go back to where it all began.
Monday, 18th April 2016
We, us, all the interns, arrived at different times, sometimes as scheduled, sometimes getting lost in Aberystwyth, getting off the bus at the wrong stop. Others just arriving so late that those privileged ones owning a car had to make the two hour trip and pick up the last intern.
The first ones to arrive had the chance to pick their rooms. This selection was easy for the boys, there was only one room for them. The girls had 3 rooms to choose from, but it was also easy – Is it already occupied? Yes, go to the next one. This room has a wardrobe and the other one doesn`t? Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Next step was to get to know the town, downhill you get to the harbour and the busiest part of New Quay and uphill, great views, a few more pubs and shops and the bonus of getting an amazing leg workout.
After getting a few things from the grocery shop, it was time to eat something and play a board game. Getting something to eat was straight forward, the struggle came when we tried to pick the game. Our selection was: 3 puzzles, scrabble, another word game, and a music DVD game (which wishes to remain anonymous). This game came out in 2004, when most of us, now in our 20s and 30s, were blooming teenagers (do you see where this is going, right?). The rules appeared to be far too complicated for 8 eager to play scientists, but it got so much worse. In the first rounds no one was able to answer anything correctly, so the freestyle playing began. The game was still on the boring side of the spectrum, but any correct answer from any team was applauded and that team was worshipped. By the end of the game, we decided that this game was a “never again” type of game, so we sent it to exile, to the magic cupboard specifically, but that`s another story.
Tuesday, 19thof April 2016
With all the interns finally together, the training began, first with a tour around the office and then back at the intern house with a few lectures about our immediate future here (yes, we are getting to the important part!).
Then was time to see the pier, where we are going to spend 2 hours of our day, every day, for a few months, no matter if it rains or hails, as long as there is a possibility to see any cetacean or seal and you are able to commit to stay there for the full shift.
Intern pack. From top left, Georgina, Chris, Derry, Thomas, Ellie, Giselle. Bottom, Marta and Heidi.
This is us! All ready for our first watch, equipment in hand and ready to see some dolphins, porpoises, seals, anything! The first thing was to try all the new equipment; landwatch forms, binoculars and cameras.
And so we did, since there were no dolphins to photograph (for now…) a number of artsy, extreme face close-ups, and bird photographs started to fill the memory card of the camera.
And then the dolphins appeared! It was time to try to get a good photograph of their dorsal fin, record the sighting in the form, with the behaviour of the animal, its direction, the time, if there were boats, … everything, whilst still scanning the sea in case other animals appeared! Luckily, there were 9 of us.
There were 2 bottlenose dolphins, which were beautifully swimming around the Cardinal Buoy, which is 1km and marks the North. Although they spent some time in the area slowly swimming, allowing us to get our first pile of dolphin photographs, they finally decided to head offshore, taking with them our hope to get a fin shot.
But that wasn´t the end! Later on, a boat approached to the harbour, bringing with them another dolphin playing in the wake.
Third dolphin sighting of our watch (or maybe the same which we had already seen but came back for another swim in the bay? We’ll never know).
And this is what happened, we were lucky enough and stunningly excited to see some dolphins on our first land watch. In fact, it seems that we were incredibly lucky since only a few of us were able to spot anything in our shifts after that training session. It may be this or it may be the fact that 2 out of 5 shifts had to be cancelled or suspended half way due to the lovely, changeable and until now always cold, Welsh weather. We’ll never know.
Author: Marta Gil Molinero (Sea Watch Intern 2016)