Dolphins of the Bay

A weekend on the coast of Wales would be nothing without spending a little time in search of those enigmatic marine mammals, dolphins, in this case bottlenose dolphins to be specific.

Cardigan Bay holds one of two resident, coastal populations of bottlenose dolphins in the UK. Recent work by Feingold et al., 2011 indicates the population of dolphins is around 200 and made up of transient, occasional and resident individuals. Whilst we have seen dolphins from Borth and Aberystwyth, one of the best places to see them from the shore or to take a boat trip, is New Quay and it is here that we headed on Sunday.

With the narrow streets bustling with people, we headed for the quay, eyes scanning the silvery grey sea for any hint of a dorsal fin. It did not take long and soon we were settled, eating chips and watching two dolphins surfacing a short way off the harbour…bliss!
Bottlenose dolphin surfaces off New Quay, West Wales

A lot of the research carried out on dolphins is based on photo-identification, taking photos of the dorsal fin and back of dolphins and identifying individuals based on scars, nicks and scratches. Interestingly one of the dolphins we saw today had a really distinctive dorsal fin, with a white top edge, distinctive shape to the fin and nick in the trailing edge…

Close up of the dorsal fin 

See the recent work by Feigold  et al., here – http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/docs/Daphna%20Feingold_poster_11_final.pdf

Me and Barley, watching dolphins from the quay wall…
although Barley seems to be facing the wrong way!

 


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