While bottlenose dolphins are occasional visitors to Sussex waters, common dolphins are rarely reported. On 13th April the regional co-ordinator of the Sussex Regional Group received several calls about a small (possibly juvenile) common dolphin outside the Brighton Marina. The dolphin eventually headed off in a south westerly direction and we thought that would be the last we would hear of it. However, on 27th April British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) contacted the Sussex group about a young common dolphin at Eastbourne and were enquiring if any groups of commons were in the area. A group of commons had in fact been reported as a casual sighting off Newhaven (East Sussex) on 20th April and it was suggested the young one could have been from this group. After this we received another report of 6 common dolphins at Selsey Bill (west Sussex) on 28th April. The young dolphin seems to be fit and healthy and since then has been reported from time to time off East Sussex. BDMLR are monitoring the situation.
Also on 28th April, 40-60 porpoisewere reported off Kingmere Rocks (2-3 miles off Littlehampton West Sussex). A group of people were free-diving and suddenly found themselves surrounded by porpoise, blowing loudly at the surface. Small groups of harbour porpoise are occasionally recorded off Sussex but such a large group is also unusual. Anecdotal records suggest that large groups were once common in the English Channel.
Steve Savage, Sussex regional coordinator.