Sea Watch Foundation has many diverse research projects. They range from regular monitoring and reporting on our local cetacean populations, to working with statutory bodies to improve future management and conservation across the UK and internationally.
Recent Work and Publications:
Sea Watch Foundation continues to monitor the conservation status of Britain’s largest coastal population of bottlenose dolphins in and around Cardigan Bay, Wales. This has led to multiple publications from our survey data, as well as PhD and MSc thesis on specific topics, which you can view here.
- North-West European shelf sea maps
From collation of national and international surveys undertaken over the last thirty years, monthly maps showing the density distributions of cetacean and seabird species have been produced. These maps are published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
You can also view some of our monthly maps showing the density distributions here.
- Atlas of British mammals.
Using our database of sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises recorded in UK waters, we have co-authored with the UK Mammal Society the first comprehensive Atlas of British mammals. This ambitious four-year project was published in March 2020.
Work with statutory Management Authorities:
Sea Watch Foundation is committed to improving and sustaining the status of cetacean populations in British and Irish waters. We provide information, data and evidence to multiple management bodies on the status and threats to cetaceans.
- Joint Cetacean Database Programme
We are currently working with the UK Government’s Conservation Advisors, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and NGO’s on the Joint Cetacean Database Programme. This programme brings together survey data from all the main NGOs and research groups to help provide evidence for population changes and identify important areas for conservation and management. To find out more about this project visit the JNCC website here.
- Reduction of accidental killing
We are members of expert working groups guiding proposals to reduce accidental entanglement of dolphins and porpoises in fishing gear. The European Commission aims to take emergency measures to protect the endangered harbour porpoise population in the Baltic, and common dolphins in the Bay of Biscay.
UK based Conservation:
At Sea Watch Foundation, we study and conserve the local populations of cetaceans in Cardigan Bay, operating out of our field office in New Quay, Ceredigion. We also work with a variety of research organisations across the UK to improve the status of marine mammals and birds.
- Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)
Working with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology based in Edinburgh, we are examining responses to climate change of marine birds and mammals in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government (Marine Scotland). The aim is to be able to predict how different species will be affected by climate warming over the coming decades so that appropriate action can be taken to safeguard populations.
- Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust
We currently collaborate with the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust and pathologists from the Scottish Agricultural College, in Inverness, who run the Scottish Strandings scheme. The aim is to investigate the risk to minke whales and humpbacks from entanglement in creel lines around Scotland, and our role is to provide data on their distribution and abundance.
We are also coordinating with conservation groups internationally, by using our invaluable information on surveying and managing cetacean populations.
- International Conservation Action Plans for Harbour Porpoise
We currently coordinate the Action Plan for harbour porpoise conservation in the North Sea on behalf of the United Nations Environmental Programme’s intergovernmental conservation agreement called ASCOBANS.
- International Working Group to reduce Cetacean Bycatch
Our Director co-chairs the ASCOBANS-ACCOBAMS Joint Working Group on bycatch covering all of European waters and whose aim is to work together to reduce accidental entanglement of whales, dolphins and porpoises in fishing gear across Europe.
To read more about the threats of bycatch and other threats to cetaceans visit our threats page here.
- International Project Steering Group
Our Director serves on an International Project Steering Group advising on research into the Population Consequences of Disturbance upon marine mammals globally through the Joint Industry Program on Sound & Marine Life. The team leading the work is based at the University of Santa Cruz in California. One of the study species is the harbour porpoise in European seas.