On the 15th and 16th of June, the Sea Watch Foundation held its first cetacean training course of the year! Members of the public with an interest in British cetaceans were invited to join us for a weekend of engaging talks and lectures, demonstrations and first-hand experience in the field of cetacean research here at Sea Watch HQ in New Quay.
The weekend began on Saturday the 15th with a day of interactive lectures and sessions led by Peter Evans, Daphna Feingold and Danielle Gibas. Trainees gained valuable insight into the biology and diversity of cetaceans found in UK waters, the threats they face and the importance of active monitoring and conservation within the Cardigan Bay SAC. They also learned good data collection technique which was put into practise when course attendees got their first chance to contribute their efforts towards cetacean monitoring here in New Quay by joining Danielle and the Sea Watch interns for an afternoon land watch on the pier. Unfortunately the dolphins didn’t put in an appearance but the group were lucky enough to spot a Grey Seal in the harbour!
Sunday the 16th was another fantastic opportunity for more field work both on the cliffs and at sea. After a morning session on the photo identification of resident dolphins in Cardigan Bay, the team headed up the coastal path to complete a land watch from the cliffs, and were fortunate to spot and record a group of five bottlenose dolphins foraging close to the shore. And the sightings didn’t end there! After a short break the trainees, accompanied by Daphna, Danielle and a small team of interns, took to the sea on Ermol V for the opportunity of a closer encounter – and they weren’t disappointed. Within minutes of setting off, the Ermol V was joined by a small group of bottlenose dolphins in New Quay harbour. Aside from enjoying this exciting encounter, trainees also had the opportunity to assess and record behaviour of the dolphins, additional sightings and effort data aboard the boat as part of the working crew.
Overall the weekend was a great success with course attendees learning the inner workings of British cetaceans and active research both in the classroom and out in the field as part of the Sea Watch team. We hope that the trainees enjoyed the course as much as we did!