National Whale and Dolphin Week is going strong, with new fascinating sightings everyday around the country. Yesterday’s watches began as early as 05:15 in the morning and concluded around 14:45 in the afternoon with numerous different sightings.
The highlight of the day and the highlight of one of our NWDW assistant’s morning as she ran around the office to disperse the news was a basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) sighting! The animal was seen swimming casually and surfacing off the coast of Wick, Highland by (we’re sure) a very excited and lucky observer. Between 09:45 and 10:15, 2 pods of Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus) were also seen, with a total count of 14.
The hot spot of the day was again Berry Head at Devon, with the most entries of the day. More than 15 separate sightings were recorded! Thank you to the observers of Berry Head for your wonderful dedication! The headlands were mainly visited by common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). A pod of 10-15 individuals was first seen before 5:30 in the morning feeding, and another big pod of 10-25 individuals, with 2 juveniles amongst them, not too long after. A third large pod of 20 surfaced just after midday and 25 more visited before the end of the day. Unsurprisingly these were not our only visitors at Berry Head. Throughout the day, 4 grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and 7 harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) made their appearances in the morning. In Anglesey at Point Lynas another 4 harbour porpoises were spotted around midday.
England had our second most popular spot of the day; Dunwich, Suffolk had 7 sightings including 9 harbour porpoises in the early afternoon, another 4 grey seals all before noon and 1 harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) around 10 in the morning. One observer also spotted 3 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from Souter Lighthouse, Sunderland, surprisingly our only bottlenose dolphin sighting of the day!
Here in New Quay, our rockpool safari was unfortunately rained out, along with any planned boat trips and landwatches. It was so rough at Dolau Beach that our interns weren’t able to jump in there for their morning sea swim and had to hurry their chilly selves to the main beach. Don’t worry though the office was kept busy with photo ID work and preparing for today’s scavenger hunt!
And on the 7th day, all the animals appeared in Devon!
National Whale and Dolphin Watch week continues to count new sightings and animals every day. Yesterday, the 7th day was particularly full of information from Berry Head in Devon, with 20 out of 36 sightings of the day being from there.
The sightings started already at 05:01 in the morning with a solitary harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) making its appearance. Soon after a bit before 06:00 pod of 10-25 common dolphins appeared feeding in the area, with 1 juvenile among them. 8 more followed 5 minutes later, possibly all of them juveniles! A grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) was seen a bit after 06.00 and around 07:00 in the morning a single harbour porpoise and 2 common dolphins were spotted. Soon after, around 07:15 a big pod of 30-35 common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) was also seen from afar, swimming normally heading East. The largest pod sighting of the day! A smaller pod of 5 individuals appeared shortly after, and 4 more just 10 minutes after that. Just a minute before 08:00 a pod of 20 appeared swimming casually, and only 7 minutes later yet another family of 15-20 common dolphins was also seen. Shortly before 08:30 one juvenile common dolphin was spotted, and close to 09.00 three harbour porpoises were seen very close. The site welcomed different sightings of harbour porpoises and common dolphins throughout the day, with the most mentionable being another big pod of 30 individuals around noon, 10 more around 14:00 and 10 more seen in two groups of five shortly after. Elsewhere in Devon, 3 common dolphins were spotted from a small motorboat.
As of other sites around the UK, Dunwich in Suffolk was the main seal site of the day. 2 grey and 2 harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) were spotted on 4 separate occasions in the area, as well as one harbour porpoise. Off of the Cornwall peninsula AK Wildlife Cruises’ crew spotted a pod of 50 common dolphins including 18 juveniles and 6 calves! Less than 20 minutes later 15 more appeared in the same area and in the evening 3 Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus) were spotted off of St. Ive’s, Cornwall! In Scotland, at the Arbroath Cliffs in Angus, 7 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were seen, with 2 juveniles among them. Nearing the end of the day 3 bottlenose dolphins were spotted from Monifieth, Dundee.
In Wales, one of the most exciting sightings of the day were the 8 grey seals that were seen in Rhossili, Swansea, with possibly 2 juveniles between them! We didn’t have the chance to see another group of grey seals in the season, a spectacle usually seen during mating and pupping season. A big pod of 30 common dolphins with as many as 7 juveniles with them was also spotted at the Rhossili area, together with 4 more of the species later on that day, and some harbour porpoises. As for new sightings, Oxwich Bay made it to our map, with the sighting of 2 harbour porpoises in the late morning and at 15:45 a grey seal was spotted during a Land Watch from the Treborth Forest Coastal Path.Despite the rough sea conditions in New Quay our interns set up and hosted a wonderful scavenger hunt that helped introduce visitors to the wonderful spots around New Quay. The secret password to get the prize at the end was in the form of a riddle: Why did the whale cross the road? Meditate on this and check back here tomorrow for the answer! Until then remember to stay safe and thank you again to everyone participating and helping us collect all this data.