Monday, 14 August 2017

A Sunday Stenna Survey

A weather window on Sunday saw Steve, Fenella, Sophie and Chantal board Stenna Europe. Chantal was a Sea Trust intern back in 2006 and had travelled down from Surrey to do the survey. Before we reached Strumble we were surrounded by common dolphins. They were intent on feeding so there were no acrobatics and counting them was difficult. A group of 8 a group of 6 and lots of singles/pairs. A couple of miles on and more common dolphin, again feeding and a few more miles yet more commons. Chantal is from Holland and has only had the occasional porpoise for years so she was ecstatic. Steve went in to the main bridge to make coffees and missed the sight of 3 rissos showing well one being almost white. They then dived flukes high in the air which is a sure sign of a deep dive. A few miles on we had an unusual event. A large fin, unmistakeably rissos but just in front were the 4 smaller fins of commons. I have only witnessed the two species together once before on a small boat survey out of Swansea. A single porpoise and some very playful commons rounded off a very pleasant survey. As there is no time to go ashore with the new Stenna timetable we went below for a bite to eat and to warm up. When we got back to the bridge 1 1/2 hours later the weather had changed. The breeze had freshened, the clouds had gathered and the sea was getting up. We got to Tusker without seeing anything and then the rain started. It cleared eventually but a single porpoise off Strumble was the only sighting of the return leg. A big thank you to all at Stenna for really looking after us.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

From Mat and Emma...

Emma & Matt Marl

Just thought I’d let you know……myself and Joe went on an impromptu fishing soiree off the rocks below the fort in Lower Town Fishguard this evening about 6ish, hoping for a possible fish supper. Ten minutes in and there were two dolphins and I think a calf ( much smaller and darker) having a ball at the mouth of the harbour ( about level with the breakwater). At one point Joe was stood, rod in hand and then one of the dolphins leapt beautifully out of the sea- would have made a great photo…… Alas, no mackerel, but a fab 15 minute cetacean display so all worth it. Goodwick chippy provided the fish supper and we watched the sunset at strumble – perfect.

Hope all is well with you. Heather is enjoying her job at Llys Y Fran, the aim is to save for driving lessons and get mobile- you will hopefully see more of her then.

Hope to be at Sea Trust again soon.

Great stuff Emma! we were out on the Breakwater twice yesterday and saw nothing so good to know they were there later!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Strumble Diary 12/08/2017

An early start to the session today with me reaching the lookout by 07.30am. The light was quite poor with heavy cloud and a brisk westerly wind in contrast to the expected forecast which was for near clear skies and light winds. The tide race was slow to form and the porps were slow to come in but eventually they did. The race was like a washing machine at times and the porps very difficult to spot never mind track in the lens. I did manage to get some in the slightly calmer areas and mid way through the session a distant pod of around twenty Common Dolphin approached from the NE. They were at the extreme end of my range though so the images are just record shots. The action died down around 10.30 ish so I made my way home.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Strumble Diary 10/08/2017

An excellent session this afternoon with a light NW wind and hazy cloud cover providing good even light. The tide race on the ebb was close in and so were the porps. Sea trust has just taken delivery of a new camera and first to get trained up on it's use is Holly. Initial results are encouraging and after only two sesions Holly is learning fast and really enjoying the extra performance the new kit brings to the team. Hopefully we'll see some of Holly's efforts on the blog soon. As time goes by I hope to train all the volunteers and the rest of team Sea Trust in it's use and it will prove an invaluable tool to aid the fin ID project and increase the overall quality of the database. So here's a selection of today's captures.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Wrong! what we witnessed was a birth of a baby bottle!

Mulling the events of last evening over I am pretty sure that what we witnessed was a female bottlenose dolphin in the act of giving birth along with at least one other helper!

It was obvious that something unusual was going on but with several dolphins spread over a wide area it was not easy to keep track of what was actually going on. I was lucky enough to have my camera pointed in the right direction to snap a juvenile breach.  

Three or four gannets had followed the dolphins into the harbour and seemed  as confused as I was, especially as Freddie was also excitedly pointing as the dolphins surfaced quite randomly. 

Soon after there was some prolonged splashing about 400 metres out from us so I kept snapping away although at that distance it was difficult to ascertain what was happening.
I thought I saw a glimpse of a head spy-hopping.

Time was getting on and we needed to do some shopping so regretfully we left them and made our way off the breakwater. Something had been going on but what?
It took a while before we got home and when I downloaded my images for processing, I had nearly four hundred! It takes quite a lot of time and concentration discarding duds and cropping or enhancing others, most i deleted.
I was knackered by the time i posted some of the better shots just before going to bed. As I lay there mulling over what we had witnessed a it suddenly dawned on me, what we witnessed was the a birth of a baby bottle!...

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Phew they're back!

I arrived on the breakwater this evening at around six with Freddie and Zorro not really expecting much. A brisk westerly wind was chopping the water in the harbour mouth when I saw something suspiciously like a fin in the chop.

 I popped back for the camera and to my joy i recognised a fin with a notch at its base It made its way into the harbour mouth and then I spotted another mother and calf pair further into the harbour.
Their movements were random and they all seemed to be acting cagey it was hard to work out where the action was going to happen. Lots of splashy stuff was going on

There were interactions going on though  it did not look like friendly interaction...

 Its not easy to keep a track of whats going on through the narrow view through the lens. Yet again it was hard to keep track of numbers initially I thought three but more likely it was at least six .
either way they put on a spectacular show!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Porthcawl Survey

At last it was calm enough to do a survey. After 3/4 hour of empty sea I was anticipating another blank when 2 porps surfaced briefly about 2 miles out. When I failed to relocate them I wondered if I was hallucinating. About 10 minutes later the only gannet of the day arrived circled and dived as if to say 'here they are'.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Common Dolphins from Rich Stonier & Wdig Birder from Strumble (and porp's!)

Sunday AM Rich Stonier
Common Dolphin - 2 pods of 5 and 15
Common Porpoise - showing quite well!

Saturday AM
Common Dolphin - c.15 Rich Stonier
Common Porpoise - showing occasionally

Friday AM Wdig Birder
Common Dolphin - A pod of approx. 12 to 15 animals east to west about half way out.
Porpoises showing occasionally.

So as usual for this time of the year Common Dolphins showing off Strumble though not according to SCANS III....

SCANS III a travesty!

Just been looking at the SCANS III results/sightings, Estimates of cetacean abundance in European Atlantic waters in summer 2016 from the SCANS-III aerial and shipboard surveys May 2017 :

The area we concentrate on is the southern end of the block they refer to as E and the Northern end of the block they refer to as D. We have been surveying these from both the Stena Europe and Small Boats throughout the seasons since 20004. 

The SCANS III surveys were conducted from aircraft and clearly not fit for purpose. Firstly only one sighting of Bottlenose Dolphin was made for the whole of Cardigan Bay whilst we were photographing them in Fishguard Bay on a daily basis! 

Many more circa 400+ would have been present north of us around the Teifi and on to Newquay and beyond to Anglesey. No Common Dolphins were seen in our sector of Block E where we regularly encounter pods of up to 100 in a single sighting occasionally over 1,000! 

As for Risso's, a couple of sightings up north but nothing around the "Tusker Risso's Triangle" a prolific area for them.

 Bucking the trend are Minke Whales, which appear to be (excluding Harbour Porpoises) The commonest cetacean in the Irish Sea.

Yep its a joke  as the hundreds of Sea Trust Volunteers who have worked hard to collect reliable data all know! But worse than that, this misleading, unreliable data will be  used in any future management plans for cetacean protection and conservation.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Report of Bottles from Skokholm Blog..

"The highlight of the day came in the form of Bottlenose Dolphins when at least 30 animals were watched heading east in the early afternoon (and a minimum of six back west in the early evening".

The Skokholm Blog

I bumped into Chris Grayell an old mate who crews with Voyages of Discovery who also reported seeing Bottlenose Dolphins off The Smalls with Commons. In over 15 years of small boat surveys and ferry surveys we had never recorded Bottles out there. I have to say I was a little skeptical but a second report from another reliable source seems to have nailed it.
So are these Oceanic Bottles that have started to visit us or Cardigan Bay Bottles that are moving further afield?