Dolphins in Aber

The sea is like molten silver. Pearly grey, sparkling where the sun peeks through the high cloud cover. The water is calm, not a ripple to be seen. To the south the grey green coastline drifts away into a hazy horizon. To the north the clouds have split, spilling sunshine and blue sky onto the land and sea. The water becomes cobalt blue, silky and smooth. The change is so abrupt its like a line in the sky reflected by a line in the sea. All this plays out from the monument in Aberystwyth. Look south and its molten silver, turn 180 degrees and it is silky blue. 

The view north, past the war memorial and Aberystwyth

We have come to this town where we spent so much time of our youth and where we returned so many times since. Drawn back by an invisible thread or tie. This time it is a brief visit. A few days at the caravan just up the coast, something that is becoming a bit of a tradition at this time of year. And part of that tradition is to come to Aber.. to sit by the sea, walk on the prom and eat ice cream. As our family has grown the activities have expanded to include the play park. But for me whenever I am here there is a part of me that is always gazing out to sea. Always in hope. Hope for a body to break the water, a breath to be expelled into into air, another to be taken in as a head disappears beneath the waves followed by a back and dorsal fin. 

The view south, over the harbour mouth

In our years of returning to Aberystwyth, and while I studied at university here, I have seen bottlenose dolphins on a number of occasions. They are not as regular here as say further down the coast in New Quay, but they do regularly come past and in around the harbour mouth to feed. 

Today we are driving slowly along the sea front searching for a parking space when something catches my eye out at sea. Through the silvery water a dark body surfaces. A dolphin! Literally jumping out the car and grabbing my camera, I all but abandon the hubby to find a parking space with kids and dog in tow. He drives on, and I continue on foot, following the pavement as it curves round the headland, the castle remains and war memorial rising above and behind me. I turn the corner, the dolphins (I am fairly confident I have seen at least two) surface again. They surface once, maybe twice in one spot and then it is a question of finding them again, they appear on a mission, travelling past the monument and the pier, heading north across the silky blue of the bay. I lose sight of them just as I catch up with my little family, and we head up onto the monument for a promised picnic before heading to the play park.

Bottlenose dolphin surfaces in the silver water off Aberystwyth

I have not even sat on the bench when once more a dark body and fin breaks through the silvery water. They must have turned round! The park is on hold (not cancelled just delayed) as we spend the next half hour or so watching three dolphins around the mouth of the harbour. They are feeding, sometimes surfacing with a spray of water, a body thrown in the air, or part way out in pursuit of fish that leap frantically away. Other times they surface more slowly, searching once more. It is not just me watching, on the headland others glance out and occasionally catch a glimpse, out on the water there are numerous boats and several paddleboarders, all thankfully keeping a respectful distance although several times the adult and what I can now see is a calf surface reasonably close to them. In all there are three dolphins, the mother and calf, and another adult. For me it is pure bliss. Even Robyn sees them, shouting delightfully, ‘there mummy, I just saw the baby’. Her attention however is not as gripped as mine (understandably so) and once the picnic is consumed the lure of ice cream and the park is too much. Luckily for me the dolphins move off down the coast, heading south and away, making the move to leave that spot easier! 

A mother and calf bottlenose dolphin surface behind some paddleboarders

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